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Monday, January 9, 2006
Mourinho will let unhappy players leave

Jose Mourinho admits he will listen to offers for any player who wants to leave Stamford Bridge.

But there was little hope for England left-back Wayne Bridge or central defender Robert Huth as they look for a sustained run in the Chelsea first team ahead of this summer's World Cup finals in Germany.

Having secured the loan services of midfielder Nuno Maniche from Dynamo Moscow until the end of the season, Mourinho's squad is now back to its full quota and it is unlikely that either Bridge or Huth will be allowed to move on during the current transfer window.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has already issued guarded warnings to Bridge that he must be playing regular first team football before the end of the season or he can forget being part of his World Cup gathering.

But Mourinho is reluctant to let either player go out on loan while his side are still challenging for success on three fronts - the Barclays Premiership, the FA Cup and the Champions League - and will not let their individual desires affect his plans.

The only way anyone will be allowed to leave the club is if they make it quite clear to the Portuguese coach that they are unhappy and no longer wish to be part of his squad.

'Anyone who isn't happy here can leave,' said Mourinho. 'I know Wayne Bridge needs to play football but Chelsea need to win matches.

'I will keep my word to my players, I will keep the squad of players that I trust unless somebody shows me they are not happy or wants to leave.'

Time is running out for Bridge and German international Huth and although both started the FA Cup victory over Huddersfield on Saturday, neither are expected to be in action against Sunderland this weekend.

Indeed, Mourinho made it quite clear that he will not let his heart rule his head when it comes to team selection.

Mourinho added: 'A Chelsea manager chooses, in his opinion, the players who are in better condition to play matches. Of course I want to help Bridge and give him some matches because he is a very good player who wants to come back to a high level. But if I feel that Gallas or Del Horno are the best options for me I cannot think with my heart.'

Meanwhile Joe Cole has accepted Mourinho's criticism that he produced a showboating performance during the Premiership win over Birmingham on New Year's Eve.

Mourinho claimed he would axe the England midfielder if he continued to play for himself and the fans instead of the team.

Cole missed the clash with his former club West Ham through suspension at the beginning of last week but was back in action against Huddersfield on Saturday. Cole, who has been in fine goalscoring form in recent weeks, failed to shine against lowly Town but did enough to suggest he has heeded Mourinho's warning.

'I know what the manager has said and he is always asking more questions of me,' said Cole. 'I always listen to what he says and want to answer those questions for him.

'I was so disappointed to miss the West Ham game. It would have been nice to play back at Upton Park again, but it was typical that I had to miss the game through suspension.

'I would love to get back among the goals again and maintain the form I have been showing all season.'

Chelsea, who face either Millwall or Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup, remain in mourning following the death of former sports minister Tony Banks in America on Sunday.

Banks, 62, died after suffering a massive stroke and tributes have poured in for the lifelong Chelsea supporter.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: 'The entire Chelsea Football Club community is saddened by the news that Lord Stratford has passed away.

'Better known as Tony Banks, he was a man of high intellect, great humour, much compassion and of course he was Chelsea's No1 supporter.

'Tony was instrumental in helping Chelsea `old boys' renew their links to the club. His support and advice to the club's current management was very welcome and appreciated.

'He had just embarked on a new stage in his life, and he was doing so with the enthusiasm and excitement that marked his entire career. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Sally at this difficult time.'




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