Zhirkov close to Blues return

Posted Saturday, August 29, 2009 by PA

Summer signing Yuri Zhirkov is back in training after a knee injury but will not be considered by Chelsea for their Premier League home game against Burnley.

England midfielder Joe Cole, also back in training after knee ligament problems, is still a few weeks away from a return to action.

Juliano Belletti has recovered from his Achilles injury but defenders Alex (groin) and Paulo Ferreira (knee) both miss out.

Chelsea, second in the table, have a 100% record with wins over Hull, Sunderland and Fulham but boss Carlo Ancelotti is well aware of the task ahead - predicting an open game in the early kick-off at Stamford Bridge.

"In these last three matches we played very well," said Ancelotti.

"For sure, we can improve. But I didn't find in these matches a lot of mistakes.

"The team played very well in these games. It's important to continue and maintain a very good motivation.

"With Burnley, it's important to take control of the game. They have good quality in attack and can use the wings, the long ball, and the quality of their midfielders. It will be an open game.

"They have had a very good start to the season - they beat Manchester United and Everton. I watched these games and they like to play football.

"It will be a very good match, a spectacular match. They will not come to Stamford Bridge just to defend and I am impressed with the quality of their play."

Burnley defender Richard Eckersley will sit out the game.

Eckersley is serving a one-match ban after being sent off in the Carling Cup victory at Hartlepool in midweek.

Michael Duff could come into contention after an ankle problem but Steven Caldwell remains sidelined with a groin injury.

Clarets boss Owen Coyle has smiled at the suggestion he was on an equal footing with Ancelotti - managers enjoying a debut season in the Barclays Premier League.

Burnley's Scottish boss knows full well he and his Italian counterpart at Chelsea have vastly different goals.

"There is a huge discrepancy between me and Carlo in terms of budget and everything else that goes with it," said Coyle as he prepared to take his team to Stamford Bridge.

"Our priority is to stay in the Premier League, his priority is to win trophies. They are going to be at the business end come May.

"Carlo is a world renowned coach and the great thing for me is I am now coming up against some of the best people in the game.

"There is no doubt he will have his team well drilled, organised and effective. It will be a difficult afternoon."

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