Posted on: Fri 16 Oct 2009

The international break has inflicted only limited damage on the Chelsea squad for the trip to Aston Villa. Michael Ballack is the player unavailable.

The Germany captain played the first half only of his nation's midweek match having suffered an ankle injury the previous Saturday in the important win in Russia.

'Ballack has a problem,' Carlo Ancelotti reported after training on Friday and before travelling to Birmingham.

'He is the only player who has a problem after the international games and he will not be in the game tomorrow.'

The irony that it was a tackle by Yury Zhirkov that initiated the injury was not lost on the Chelsea manager.

'I was surprised. I saw the game and usually I think Ballack beats Zhirkov, but Zhirkov beat Ballack. This is good for Zhirkov!

'Petr Cech will return but we want to thank Hilario because Hilario did very well against Liverpool,' Ancelotti continued with the squad news. His first choice keeper is available again after suspension. John Mikel Obi remains out with the ankle injury suffered at Wigan but the manager is able to include Joe Cole and had some words of encouragement for the recently-returned England player regarding the World Cup.

'Joe Cole has the time to show his quality and [Fabio] Capello can see this.'

Saturday's lunchtime kick-off is the first away game since the one defeat of the season, at Wigan, but the subsequent win at home to Liverpool has eased the concerns that followed that.

'We won away in Sunderland, we won away in Stoke City, only in Wigan was there a problem,' highlighted Ancelotti.

'This team showed also good quality away in this first period of the season, not just at home.

'I know very well Martin O'Neill's teams because Milan played against his team when he was Celtic manager.

'He is a very good coach. They have a very good organisation in defence, and in front they will have very dangerous players because [Emile] Heskey is a good player, also [Jon] Carew is good, and Agbonlahor is a fantastic player in counter-attack.

'But it is important for us not to think about individual players, we have to think that we will play against a strong team, a physical team.

'If we play like against Liverpool, we can win. If we play like against Wigan then we can have a problem.'

Aston Villa defender Luke Young is included in their squad for the first time this season.

BBC London has live radio commentary on every Chelsea game and can be accessed online via Chelsea TV Plus.