MOURINHO: GAMES OF CHANCE

Speaking at his weekly media conference ahead of the visit of Southampton on Sunday, Jose Mourinho confirmed that Samuel Eto'o and David Luiz will be unavailable for the game.

Eto'o was stretchered off on Tuesday night in Basel, and the manager said today the striker is likely to be out for around two weeks with a grade one muscular injury. Meanwhile, the game also comes too soon for David Luiz, who missed the defeat in Switzerland with a knee injury. The Brazilian defender did, however, return to full training today.

Mourinho told the journalists present that though he never willingly tolerates a defeat, the squad had reacted positively to Champions League disappointment earlier in the season and he was hopeful they would do the same again.

Other topics discussed included Sunday's high-flying opponents and the vital role his squad will play in the coming weeks. Mourinho explained his side, who had stayed a night longer than usual abroad and had trained upon arrival back in England on Wednesday, enjoyed a day off yesterday that was, on today's evidence, of great benefit to the manager.

'The training was really good today,' Mourinho reported.

'I could not just train tactically with them but also communicate and analyse their individual match performances and situation, from their point of view. This is very important for me.

'We still have some more work to do tomorrow and hopefully on Sunday we will be ready. If I forget the performance from our last match the situation is fine. We are close to the league leaders, we have qualified for the last 16 in the Champions League and we are in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

'Of course I didn't like the performance (against Basel), but I have to live with it, especially in a team without years and years to work together, or without enough maturity to keep that stability match after match, and with some fatigue added. We will try everything not to repeat it.'

In the wake of recent transfer rumours, Mourinho told the press he has no interest in signing any strikers in January and he would finish the season with his current frontline of Fernando Torres, Eto'o and Demba Ba. He went on to explain everyone would have a part to play in the next three games, including Ashley Cole, yet to feature since his return from injury.

'We have lots of matches, so now is the time for the squad and now is the time for everybody to feel they have a chance,' the Portuguese said.

'We play on Sunday, then Wednesday, then Saturday, against Southampton, Sunderland and Stoke - the SSS week - so everybody will have a chance.

'Ashley will play for sure. His attitude is phenomenal as always. He has the same attitude today as when he trained with me for the first time. He went through a difficult period, yes, and (Cesar) Azpilicueta is playing fantastic, but Ashley's attitude is an example.'

When quizzed for his thoughts on fifth-placed Southampton, and his opposite number Mauricio Pochettino, our manager said he was not surprised at the Saints' impressive progressive this season.

'Mauricio started his good work with them last season. He's a very good manager. He had the possibility to buy players and adapt them to his needs, and when you finish your first season you are much better prepared to understand the needs and profile of your team.

'The team is very compact and very solid. Can they finish in the top four? It will be difficult, as it will be difficult for the six title contenders to finish in the top four. But for sure the team is very good and they will have a very good season.

'It will be a difficult match for us, but, normally, it will be even more difficult for them.'

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