DI MATTEO: ABSENCES MOUNT

Posted on: Fri 30 Mar 2012

Branislav Ivanovic is ruled out of Sunday's FA Cup game against Portsmouth, but Florent Malouda is available after overcoming illness.

Ivanovic's continued absence, he damaged a hamstring away at Spurs on December 22, combined with John Terry's fitness test, mean it is possible youngsters may be blooded for the third round tie at Stamford Bridge.

Asked whether youth may be brought into the side, assistant first team coach Roberto Di Matteo responded: 'Did you see our bench in the last game? We're not expecting to have many more back from injury and Drogba and Kalou are gone as well.'

For the record, our seven subs at Wolves on Monday were Ross Turnbull, Paulo Ferreira, Sam Hutchinson, Ryan Bertrand, Nathaniel Chalobah, Josh McEachran and Romelu Lukaku.

'Ivanovic is a couple of weeks probably, and [John] Mikel [Obi] the same,' Di Matteo added. 'Hutchinson might be [an option]; we have to see who is available and what kind of shape they are in. Malouda is training so is fine and is available.'

Current injury problems mean Di Matteo does not envisage any departures on loan in the near future. Regarding a possible temporary switch for McEachran, the assistant first team coach said: 'At the moment nobody is going anywhere. There has been speculation because he hasn't been involved that much but at the moment nobody is going anywhere.'

Di Matteo was a popular appointment as Andre Villas-Boas's right-hand man in the summer, much loved not least due to his FA Cup-winning strikes in 1997 and 2000. He believes his past in the game can help the current crop.

'For the ones who don't play it is a bit hard and I try to speak to them maybe a little bit more often, although I speak to all the players. As an ex-player I understand the situation when you are not selected,' the former Italian international explained. 'As much as you can say, it is not going to make them happier but it is going to maybe make them understand the situation better.'

Di Matteo also has some empathy with the pressures under which the manager works, given his previous stints in charge at MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion.

'Your face is not in the press and from that point of view you don't get as much responsibility as number two, but I can understand what he feels because I was in his position,' said the 41-year-old.

'That comes with the job, the responsibilities, the decisions, the pressure, it is part of being a manager. If you can't deal with it you won't be able to be a successful manager but I think he does very well with it and he has a bright future in front of him.

'Andre is a good guy, a funny guy, but when we work we are very serious and focused but once we are inside, between us, for me it is a pleasure to work with him and I am very confident we will be successful.'