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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral