Chelsea will welcome back midfielder Michael Ballack from his Achilles injury against Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League at Stamford Bridge.

Deputy keeper Hilario is also fit again from his groin strain but Michael Essien (knee), Ashley Cole (ankle), Ricardo Carvalho (ankle) and Jose Bosingwa (knee) are all sidelined along with Branislav Ivanovic (knee).

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has added youngsters Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick Van Aanholt to his squad.

Ancelotti insists Chelsea are ready to plunder Premier League glory from under the noses of Arsenal and Manchester United after shaking off the disappointment of their European exit.

Chelsea's title rivals remain in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and Blues manager Ancelotti believes the physical and mental energy expended by Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson's teams could work in his own side's favour.

Arsenal boss Wenger claimed that Chelsea's exit from Europe has already mentally affected them.

Ancelotti initially agreed with the Frenchman's assessment but remains confident that Chelsea could benefit physically from Arsenal and United's continued participation in the Champions League.

United will face Bayern Munich on Tuesday and then welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford four days later, and Ancelotti is hoping to make the most of any United fatigue - either mental or physical.

"I agree with Arsene," said Ancelotti. "Mentally, it wasn't good for us to go out of the Champions League.

"But after the victory against Portsmouth, this moment is finished. We have to look at every game. We play Aston Villa and then have a week to prepare for Manchester United.

"That could be an advantage for us. Before, we had midweek games. We are disappointed to be out of the Champions League, but it could be an advantage."


Aston Villa



Aston Villa have doubts over central defender Richard Dunne, midfielder James Milner and strikers Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Dunne, Milner and Heskey all have Achilles problems.

Dunne managed to last 90 minutes against Sunderland on Wednesday but has struggled with the problem for the last two games. But Milner and Heskey were forced off during the 1-1 draw and a late decision will be made on their availability.

Agbonlahor has missed the last two games with a foot injury he picked up in training but hopes to be available.

Manager Martin O'Neill has ruled out finalising his side until closer to the game but has hinted there could be changes.

O'Neill has also set his sights on pulling off a treble against Chelsea.

Villa have already beaten Chelsea once this season - winning 2-1 at Villa Park in October. O'Neill is aiming to clinch a league double to revive his side's bid to qualify for the Champions League and then follow it up by also beating Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.

Having drawn seven of their last 10 league games, Villa badly need three points against Chelsea to stay in the race for a fourth-place finish.

O'Neill said: "They are two big games against Chelsea - no doubt about that. We have our own incentives and are still in there fighting despite the last two results being draws.

"Up and down results at this stage of the season are inevitable. It is a case of hanging in there and getting a couple of results - a couple of wins rather than a couple of draws - and to keep that gap there so when it gets really tight for the last four or five games we are still in there with a shout.

"Our recent record doesn't bother me. I am not perturbed. Had it occurred in my days at Leicester I would probably have been perturbed but I was younger then.

"We are in there fighting and I am absolutely fine. It is where we finish at the end of the season that matters and the one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that my players do not give up."

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