Jose Mourinho’s first pre-match media conference for a fortnight began with good news on the fitness front for his strike force.
While many Chelsea players were away for important games for their nations, Fernando Torres was working hard at Cobham to overcome the knee ligament strain suffered on the first day of the month in Romania.
The Spaniard joins Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o in the squad to face Cardiff on Saturday afternoon and is fit enough to start if selected.
‘The medical department is good and the player has good dedication, working almost all day every day so he is back,’ praised Mourinho.
‘I want to have problems by having players, I don’t want to have problems by having players injured. I don’t want an easy selection, I want a difficult selection and I have Eto’o and Ba already and we need all three strikers because after two weeks without a game, we now have three competitions at the same time. We need everybody.’
Unavailable this weekend however are Ashley Cole, who has not recovered from the rib injury that kept him out of England action, and Andre Schurrle who returned from prolific international duty with a leg muscle injury.
‘Cole’s injury is not a dangerous situation but it is very painful and the pain persists,’ the manager told reporters.
‘We will see on Monday if he can train and have the chance of being a choice for the Champions League game against Schalke, but I have my doubts.
‘But Ryan Bertrand is more than ready. He is going to play his first minutes in the Premier League this season. I didn’t give him that chance before because while I was searching and changing in attacking positions, defensively I was trying to give a stability to the team so I kept the back four for every game, changing a bit the centre-backs but the full-backs were the same the whole time. But Azpilicueta and Bertrand are very good players and are more than ready to play.
‘Schurrle is a kind of problem that happens a lot in a World Cup year. A player with a little problem wants to play in the national team and comes back to the club injured. We cannot risk him but again no problem. Of course he is in very good form but we have other options.’
Mourinho was asked questions relating to England’s World Cup qualification and an interview he gave this week to a newspaper in which John Terry’s form was discussed.
He predicted that Cole can maintain a good level of performance for club and country for years to come and explained that the way Frank Lampard is now asked to play suits this stage of his career.
When Chelsea were winning back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 under the Portuguese’s management, Lampard was one of two midfielders asked to run forward time and time again while the third midfielder provided a screen in front of the back four. Now he is one of two playing behind four more attacking players.
‘The two midfielders become more positional and they don’t need to go forward so much, so this is also good for his life as a more mature player,’ Mourinho said.
‘This is a stable moment of his career and he can keep this for some time, because his qualities are very much adapted to Chelsea, and the national team from how I see they play. There is no problem for him to do that at Chelsea and arrive in a good moment for the World Cup.’
On Terry he said: ‘When I was in Italy and Spain I was always looking at my ex-players, and John was a question mark for me.
‘Since I arrived back I found him in very good condition and he is recovering his self-esteem, his feeling of being an important player for the team that was a feeling he lost in the last couple of years.’
Mourinho does not believe recent changes in Cardiff’s backroom staffing will have any effect on the visitors’ dressing room tomorrow. He is more concerned about the timing of the game, recalling Chelsea’s defeats against Everton and Basel following the last international break.
He trained the squad on Friday in a manner that did not allow his players to know who will be in the team, and they will be staying in a hotel overnight ahead of the game.
‘These games always put some question marks and we go to the hotel because I want the players to get back the feeling of the group and the feeling of the responsibility.’