LETTING THE TRAIN TAKE THE STRAIN

Posted on: Fri 02 Feb 2007

Should John Terry retake his place against Charlton, it will be stand down time for Michael Essien as stand-in centre-back. Claude Makelele has paid tribute to his colleague's contribution.

 

José Mourinho has declared his skipper available for Saturday's game so it could be all-change around Maka with Essien moving ahead, rather than behind him.

 

It is highly unlikely the Chelsea manager won't select the player he has dubbed 'The Train', and if picked, it will be Essien's 43rd complete game this season including internationals.

 

That's a total as early as February that many players would consider a full campaign.

 

'Michael is in good condition,' confirms Makelele. 'He is young, he is very good.

 

'We have needed players like that with a lot of energy as compensation for the difficult moments we have had. The team has lost a lot of good players.

 

'For confidence, for everything, it has been a difficult season. With the injured and with the World Cup, every player has a lot of games in his body.

 

'But is not a bad season, is it?' he asks. 'Chelsea play in every competition.'

 

Essien himself knows a return to midfield after six straight games at centre-back would not lessen the demands on his body.

 

'At the back I don't run as much,' he smiles. 'But I am looking forward to when I play midfield again. We will see what happens tomorrow.

 

'We have done well for the past two or three games. Clean sheets at the back is giving us confidence and hopefully we will have JT back. The team is going to be fit again.'

 

Makelele confirms the feeling within the camp that recent displays have turned a little corner.

 

'The confidence has come back, the team has scored a lot of goals, defended well and the team is more strong.

 

'And we need this because we need to win a lot of games for the championship.

 

'Charlton will be a strong game. They need to win a lot of games to stay in the Premiership and we need to win every game.'

 

Mourinho warns that Charlton, with a win and draw from their last two games, have hit a spot of form despite their second-from-bottom position.

 

'I don't think you can say they are struggling. They got a 1-1 draw at Bolton - a great result. They have big morale and will give us a game for sure,' he has told Chelsea's official radio partner Smooth FM 102.2 ahead of the game.

 

'Charlton are playing to stay in this division so every game is important for them - and if they can take a point from this game it would be a big boost for them, so they will fight.

 

'The manager is good and will motivate his players - they will give us a difficult game.

 

'And of course against Chelsea, every team gives everything.'

 

Smooth FM 102.2 will carry full live radio commentary of Charlton v Chelsea, including match build-up and reaction.