Hiddink: Healthy competition

Guus Hiddink is hopeful he will have two more strikers available for selection when we return to action following the upcoming international break.

In the absence of the suspended Diego Costa, it’s likely to be either Bertrand Traore or Loic Remy leading the line in tomorrow’s London derby against West Ham United at Stamford Bridge.

However, with both Falcao and Pato progressing in their bids to achieve full fitness, the manager may have a couple of extra options for the final part of the campaign.

‘Falcao, as everyone knows, has had a very difficult time with injuries,’ said Hiddink. ‘He’s recovered physically from the injury and now he must regain his substance in physical fitness.

‘He’s been doing that and he’s trained for the last 10 days with the first team. We’ll see after the break whether he is fully competitive. We have to wait and see how he reacts to more intensive training.’

Hiddink explained why Pato was brought in on loan in January.

‘When he was hired we had a very difficult situation,’ added the Dutchman. ‘The only striker we had at the time was Diego Costa. Traore was a very young kid and in a very short time, coming on as a substitute, he did well and scored some goals. We also had Remy in troubled waters, and Falcao as well, so that’s the reason we got Pato on loan.

‘Everyone is becoming fitter and that’s the law of competition, we’ll see who is the strongest. He has to compete and after the international break we will maybe make some changes.

‘They have to compete among themselves in a healthy way, which is what they are doing now, and then I have to make a judgement on who, in the eyes of the technical staff, deserves to play.’

The Blues will attempt to secure as many points as possible over the course of the remaining nine matches in order to hopefully secure European football through the league table, starting with tomorrow’s visit of the Hammers.

Hiddink hopes that between now and the end of the season he will be able to provide some of the younger members of the squad with more playing time, providing them with an opportunity to improve and acquire more experience at the highest level.

‘It’s difficult for Chelsea to get fourth place,’ the manager said. ‘We’re now in a situation where we have to face facts. Being out of the FA Cup and Champions League there are other circumstances in which younger players, especially after the international break, can get chances. That’s without any guarantees from my side, they have to knock on the door.’