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Chelsea shrug off Mourinho quit talk

Chelsea insist they will not be distracted the rumours that manager Jose Mourinho is set to quit Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 22:14 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Chelsea have insisted they will not be distracted from Wednesday's League Cup semi-final first leg away to Wycombe by talk that manager Jose Mourinho is set to quit Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

The English champions were adamant that talk of falling-out involving the club's billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich, chief executive Peter Kenyon and Mourinho was "tittle-tattle".

Kenyon insisted, "You've got to look where we are. We're second in the league and behind by six points with arguably the toughest part of the season still to come.

"We qualified top of the group in the Champions League which, again, was arguably one of the toughest groups. We're in the semi-final of the Carling (League) Cup and through to the fourth round of the FA Cup."

"Would you rather be six points clear. Of course," added Kenyon, whose former club, Manchester United, currently top the table.

"But this is not the end of the season and this is not doom and gloom. I think we're in a very good position with a very strong squad."

Chelsea have been linked with a post-season move for Russia national team coach Guus Hiddink, who already knows Abramovich. But Russian officials were quick to point out Monday that the Dutchman's contract runs until 2008.

However, that is unlikely to stop the speculation surrounding Mourinho. The longest stint the Portuguese has served as a manager was the two-and-a-half years he spent in charge of Porto, the club which he left for Chelsea.

Misfiring striker Andriy Shevchenko is set to start against League Two Wycombe.

Although Chelsea beat Macclesfield 6-1 in the third round of the FA Cup, 30 million pounds Ukraine international Shevchenko failed to score against a side currently second from bottom of the fourth tier of English fotobal.

"I think he tried hard against Macclesfield and that's a step," said Mourinho. "For a striker to be in a team that wins 6-1 and not score one of them is frustrating, but he fought hard.

"When he fights hard and chases a better moment he can arrive there. In some other matches I couldn't accept that. Maybe in other matches he has just accepted without a fight the moment he is living in."

Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho and striker Didier Drogba are both suspended for Wednesday.

Influential midielder Frank Lampard is set to be rested after scoring his first Chelsea hat-trick against Macclesfield.

With Chelsea still without several injured defenders, including club captain John Terry, Mourinho could pair Paulo Ferreira and Michael Essien at the heart of his side's defence.

Up front Shaun Wright-Phillips and John Obi Mikel, who both scored on Saturday, are set to start.

Wycombe, who have already caused one major upset in the competition this season by knocking out Premiership strugglers Charlton in the quarter-finals, are set to field their playmaker Sergio Torres.

The Argentinian made a surprise appearance from the bench in Saturday's draw with Rochdale after four months out with ankle injury,

The League Two outfit should also have their first choice central defensive available with Mike Williamson returning from suspension and Will Antwi having recovered from a groin injury. On-loan Chelsea winger Anthony Grant has not been allowed to play in the tie.

First Published: Jan 09, 2007 22:14 IST