Wayne Bridge has been told that he will not be allowed to leave Chelsea during the January transfer window even though the defender fears he may miss out on England's World Cup squad.
Chelsea argue that if Bridge is allowed to depart they will have to make the same concession to Robert Huth, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Glen Johnson, who are also in danger of missing out on the tournament. West Ham United remain hopeful that they can gain Johnson, who they initially want on loan. Tottenham Hotspur are also interested.
The Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has declared that he will listen to offers for any player who is unhappy, but privately he has told them that they will have to wait until the summer before they can move.
Although Chelsea have a high-quality squad it is also relatively small. Despite the addition of Maniche, who will not be fit for another two weeks, the Premiership champions have lost Michael Essien to injury and Geremi and Didier Drogba to the African Nations' Cup. Bridge, who has recovered after a double fracture to an ankle, will try to fight for his place in the team and has no intention of handing in a transfer request. However, it is thought that he would prefer to leave Stamford Bridge.
"Anyone who isn't happy here can leave," Mourinho said. "I know Wayne Bridge needs to play football, but Chelsea need to win matches. I will keep my word to my players, I will keep the squad of players that I trust unless somebody shows me they are not happy or wants to leave."
Bridge, who joined Chelsea for £7m in 1994, played in Saturday's FA Cup victory over Huddersfield Town and Mourinho added: "Of course I want to help Bridge and give him some matches because he is a very good player who wants to come back to a high level. But if I feel that Gallas or Del Horno are the best options for me I cannot think with my heart."
Indeed Bridge is thought to fear that even the right-back Paulo Ferreira would be selected ahead of him at present as an emergency left-back.Reuse content