Cech given all-clear to return against Liverpool

January 19, 2007

The Football Association has approved the use of a headguard to be worn by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech but the Blues have been hit by the loss of England defender Wayne Bridge with knee ligament damage.

Cech is fit again after a skull fracture but must wear the headguard until specialists say it is no longer required.

Referee Rob Styles, who will officiate against Liverpool tomorrow, inspected the equipment on Thursday and the FA's head of senior referee development Neale Barry said: 'As headguards are not part of the players' `basic compulsory equipment' as set out in the laws of the game, it's essential that they are safe to wear.

'This headguard is soft in construction with padded areas of dense foam all over to protect the head of the wearer. It covers the ears but there's a hole on each side so that his hearing is unaffected.

'The helmet could cause no risk to the safety of either the wearer or any team-mate or opponent of his whilst being worn. It has a Velcro under chin strap and no extraordinary areas on the helmet that could cause unnatural deviation of the ball if it were to either strike the helmet or if the wearer were to head the ball.'

If selected, Cech will return to action for the first time since fracturing his skull in a clash with Stephen Hunt in October but while Chelsea celebrate his return, Mourinho revealed left-back Wayne Bridge is out of action for at least a fortnight.

Mourinho declared: 'Petr Cech is fine. He is ready. I cannot tell you if he is playing or not because the goalkeepers have to be the first ones to know my decision, but he is ready.

'We have a new injury with Wayne Bridge. Again a knee ligament, not a big deal but a couple of weeks out. He is an important option for us but now he is out too.

'Ashley Cole is back from suspension but nobody else is back and Makelele is suspended.'

Michael Essien is likely to remain in defence alongside Ricardo Carvalho while Mikel Jon Obi will take Makelele's role.

The Portuguese coach is very pleased with the way Essien has slotted into the defence to compensate for the absence of skipper John Terry.

Mourinho added: 'Michael is doing brilliantly and he can play in many different positions but there is only one of him.

'We have problems in the squad but at the same time, the people we have are highly motivated.

'The week has been good because it is the first time for a long time that we have had a proper week training - from Monday through to Friday.

'We worked very hard, trying to improve the team without the injured players and without new players, just with what we have in our hands, and I believe we are doing that. I am pleased with the effort the players put in.'