Football

Chelsea Vs Birmingham, Wed 27 Jan 2010

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Joe Cole will return to the Chelsea side for the Barclays Premier League clash against Birmingham at Stamford Bridge.

The England midfielder was left out of the starting line-up against Preston in the FA Cup at the weekend along with goalkeeper Petr Cech, who also returns.

Ricardo Carvalho replaces Alex in defence while Ashley Cole is back after missing the Preston game with an ankle knock. Juliano Belletti is out for a month with a knee injury while Michael Essien is sidelined for six weeks with a similar complaint.

Strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou return from African Nations Cup duty with the Ivory Coast but are not included in the squad. John Mikel Obi remains in Angola with Nigeria.

Carlo Ancelotti insists in-form striker Nicolas Anelka is staying at Stamford Bridge.

Ancelotti rejected suggestions that the 11-goal hitman will quit the club following speculation that talks over a new contract had stalled.

The Frenchman has just 18 months left on his existing contract and Chelsea are keen to tie him down to a long-term deal.

But while it is understood the two parties are far from close to an agreement, Ancelotti revealed the player has already told him that he wants to stay at the club.

"I think that they are speaking with his agent and they will try to find the right solution for both the club and for him," said Ancelotti.

"I'm confident he'll sign. Anelka is a top player and this club needs to have a lot of top players. And so, it's the same question with Joe Cole. We want to keep him and he wants to stay. There will be a resolution.

"Anelka has told me he wants to stay. He's happy with me. He's happy to work with me, and I'm very happy to work with him. That's a wedding, no? We don't want to break up."


Birmingham City



Birmingham's in-form striker Cameron Jerome will return after injury.

The former Cardiff player, who has netted four times in the last five league games, missed the FA Cup fourth round triumph at Everton with an ankle setback.

However, veteran striker Kevin Phillips is still sidelined with a groin problem which has troubled him in recent weeks and left-back David Murphy will miss out again - although he has returned to training after fracturing a kneecap last season.

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish, whose side will be defending a 15-game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge, has signed Sporting Gijon playmaker Michel and expects Aston Villa midfielder Craig Gardner to complete his move to St Andrew's.

But the former Scotland coach wants to spend a further slice of owner Carson Yeung's money to help City sustain their flying start to the campaign.

He is interested in signing Spurs striker Roman Pavlyuchenko while Liverpool forward Roman Babel is still on his radar.

McLeish said: "Are any other deals close to being completed? There is nothing close but we are trying a couple of things.

"If and when the Craig Gardner move goes through, we will have spent a good part of #3 million, a long way short of the £20-40 million that was bandied about (by Yeung).

"I have no intention of spending that amount with the way this team has played.

"But I still believe we have to spend some more money to bring in a striker and a wide man for more cover in the squad before the window closes."

McLeish will be delighted to finally acquire the services of Gardner who has become frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities at Villa this season.

He said: "I am building a squad. We have to have a squad of players and it is about enhancing the quality as you go along - and Craig Gardner will enhance the quality of the squad.

"From two years ago to now, this is a major signing for us because we wouldn't have been able to do this two seasons ago.

"We will be adding a player who is dynamic, can play in a couple of positions and is bursting to play for Birmingham and is another great character to go into our dressing room."

McLeish is under no illusions about the task facing his City against Ancelotti's team but believes they can play with no fear after their recent run and encouraging performances against the other Premier League 'big guns.'

He said: "We won't be favourites to win this one! Chelsea are in great form as well and I believes they are the team to beat for the title although Manchester United always come strong in the second half of the season.

"But we've gone to Old Trafford, the Emirates, White Hart Lane, Anfield, Goodison Park and, although we may have not taken a lot of points at theose places, we've given good performances."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
Birmingham
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