Football: Desailly fillip for Chelsea

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The Independent Online
MARCEL DESAILLY has given Chelsea a boost by declaring that he has no intention of leaving at the end of the season.

The French World Cup winner had been quoted last week that he could spring a "surprise" in May by leaving to seek another challenge if the Blues won the title.

However, on his return to London, the defender insisted that his comments had been taken out of context.

"It's been a lot of noise over nothing," he maintained. "It's true that I said I would leave Chelsea one day and that it is better to go after winning - it's easier, you are appreciated more and you leave the supporters with a good memory of you. But that's all. There's no problem, I have a four-year contract here."

The Frenchman may not be in the starting line-up at the Manor Ground for tonight FA Cup third-round tie against Oxford United, given his recent injury problems and the form of Michael Duberry. There will be some enforced changes to Chelsea's line-up, though: Albert Ferrer is suspended and Celestine Babayaro is on international duty with Nigeria.

Oxford's on-loan goalkeeper Paul Gerrard is unavailable, the midfielder Joey Beauchamp is suspended while the giant centre-forward Kevin Francis is injured.