Chelsea on target as crunch time arrives, says Wilkins

Coach confident Blues will hit their stride as season enters make-or-break stage

Ray Wilkins insists Chelsea are in good shape to face a month that could potentially define their season.

The Blues have three home games in the Premier League, beginning with Middlesbrough at home tonight, plus Hull and Wigan. But they also have crucial away trips to Liverpool and Aston Villa as well as an FA Cup fifth-round tie at Watford and a home leg against Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League.

They will begin their crucial period without the services of defender Ricardo Carvalho, who has been ruled out for 10 days with the recurrence of a hamstring problem.

"It's a great month, a fantastic month," said assistant first-team coach Wilkins. "If you are a footballer, these are the games you want to play in. This month is extremely important for us.

"It's always crucial you pick up maximum points. At home we would expect to do very well indeed... we have a magnificent record away from home and our football is quite exceptional. At home we haven't reproduced that type of football but it's not for the want of trying.

"We're working at it and we'll get back to that level of performance. We're not too far short. When teams come to Stamford Bridge, you must give them credit.

"They set themselves out not to get beat and to make it extremely difficult for our guys. The onus is on us to take the game to them and beat them."

Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, who appeared as a second-half substitute against Ipswich in the FA Cup on Saturday, is again in the squad.

The form of top scorer Nicolas Anelka continues to thwart the Ivorian's hopes of getting back into the side but Wilkins is convinced Drogba will seize his chance when it arrives.

"Didier realises the situation he finds himself in with Nicolas being the top scorer in the Premier League," said Wilkins. "Didier will get his chance at some stage and I'm sure he'll take it because that's the professional man he is."

Despite Chelsea's squad of star players, Wilkins admitted the Blues have not received any offers from other clubs, apart from Manchester City and Tottenham, during the transfer window.

Chelsea have sold Wayne Bridge to City and yesterday allowed reserve goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini to leave for White Hart Lane on a free transfer but, those deals aside, there has been no interest in Luiz Felipe Scolari's men. "We've had nothing at all from Juventus or anybody," confirmed Wilkins. "We haven't had any requests from any other club.

"As far as Didier is concerned, other clubs can do whatever they wish but it would be up to us as to whether he departs. At this moment in time, I would say certainly not. No-one else will be leaving the club.

"Carlo's gone to play football. He's been a fantastic servant. He's a smashing guy who's always been great around the place but we have the No 1 goalkeeper in the world in Petr Cech. Carlo is in magnificent condition. His contract was up at the end of the season and they will get some good years out of him because he's extremely fit and a great professional.

"We are looking at all angles at the moment, as far as bringing a goalkeeper in is concerned, but we're no closer than we were a couple of days ago. It's always difficult to bring any player in because we're looking for a certain type of quality but we'll keep looking."

Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel is back in the squad for tomorrow's game despite a drink-driving charge on Saturday. He was arrested at 5.30am near Chelsea's ground and will appear in court on 3 April. Obi was suspended for their FA Cup win over Ipswich last Saturday, and Wilkins added: "John recognises the fact he's acted irresponsibly and we'll deal with that in house."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines