Chelsea ace makes pledge to fans

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Chelsea's Russia international defender Yuri Zhirkov has pledged to show the fans he is worth his £18million price tag.

Zhirkov is set to play against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League at the Luzhniki Stadium on Tuesday as Group F's two unbeaten teams face each other. Zhirkov left CSKA Moscow for London last year but suffered a knee injury that has restricted him to just 27 appearances for the Blues.

But the 27-year-old left-back insisted: "I've not lived up to my full potential because I haven't played too many games in the first team."

He added: "But I'll try to show more. I'm getting fitter game by game, and I'll try to show more. My fitness is getting better and I'm feeling more confident."

Zhirkov was linked with a move back to Russia with Spartak in the summer but the defender was quick to dismiss the talk.

"It is just rumours and speculation," he said. "I don't want to leave Chelsea and if the manager doesn't want to sell me, I will stay."

Boss Carlo Ancelotti, wrestling with an injury crisis ahead of tonight's game, insisted Zhirkov was a vital part of his squad.

"He had a very good season last year," said Ancelotti. "He was fit to play our more important games towards the end of the season, when he didn't have an injury he played important games.

"He played when Ashley Cole had an injury, and played very important games. For me Yury is a very important player, he didn't start a lot of games but you can't say he is not important.

"He can play a lot of positions on the pitch, he played very well as a left-back and as a midfielder. He is a very important player for us and I never thought he could leave Chelsea."

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