Football: Babayaro's debut likely for Chelsea

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The Nigerian defender Celestine Babayaro could make his competitive debut for Chelsea in tonight's European Cup-Winners' Cup second leg tie in Slovakia.

The pounds 2.25m summer signing from Anderlecht has been forced out of Ruud Gullit's plans so far this season, after damaging his ankle in a cartwheel goal celebration during a pre-season friendly.

However, the Olympic gold medal winner came through 60 minutes of reserve- team action on Monday and has been named by Chelsea's player-manager in his squad for the encounter with Slovan Bratislava.

Chelsea, who defend a 2-0 lead from the first leg in the Slovakian capital, may recall Gianluca Vialli up front. Steve Clarke is available again after a calf injury, although Paul Hughes is ruled out with an ankle problem.

Danny Granville, who scored what could be the crucial second goal at Stamford Bridge, is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench, with Graeme Le Saux available again after missing the first leg, when he served a ban for his infamous Moscow brawl with David Batty two years ago.

Gullit will not name his team until just before kick-off but he looked in confident mood when the side flew out of Gatwick Airport yesterday. "We are all looking forward to the game but we know we cannot take it easy," the Dutchman said. "The players know that we must keep our concentration and work hard."

Gullit has been linked with a move for yet another foreign player: Milan's unwanted defender Winston Bogarde. The Dutchman is one name on a long clear-out list released this week by the Milan coach, Fabio Capello, who wants to rebuild his squad after his club's worst start to a season for almost 60 years.

Capello is ready to ring the changes, and one notable return to Milan could be that of Roberto Donadoni, who spent 10 seasons with the club during better years - 1986-96 - and is now in the United States with New York-New Jersey MetroStars. Milan have made the 34-year-old midfielder an offer and are waiting for his reply.

Comments