Cole pays penalty for showing 'passion' at West Ham

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The Independent Football

The Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has been fined £15,000 and suspended for two matches by the FA for an incident which occurred when he was still a West Ham player.

The England international was involved in a fracas at the end of a game at Bolton in April. Players from both sides squared up at the end of West Ham's 1-0 defeat and Cole, then the Hammers captain, was seen to throw punches in the direction of Bernard Mendy.

Cole will miss the game at Charlton on Boxing Day and at home to Portsmouth on Sunday, 28 December.

Trouble flared after the West Ham defender Ian Pearce was dismissed at the end of the game for a reckless challenge on the substitute Pierre-Yves André. Glenn Roeder, the West Ham manager at the time, said he understood why Cole had reacted. "It is natural," he said. "Joe carried the game to Bolton as much as he could. He is very passionate about West Ham and did everything he could on the day." The defeat left the Londoners six points adrift of safety with only four games remaining of a campaign which saw them relegated.

Chelsea's final Champions' League group match with Besiktas will be played at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, home of the Bundesliga side Schalke 04, on 9 December.

Europe's governing body decided to move matches from Turkey to neutral venues following last month's bomb attacks in Istanbul. The switch is subject to a final decision to be taken imminently by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

Internazionale have dismissed fresh reports linking the striker Christian Vieri with a move away from the San Siro. Chelsea, who had a bid for the 30-year-old rejected in the summer, are once again said to be interested in the Italy international. But Inter's sporting director, Marco Branca, has dismissed the speculation, saying: "Vieri is not under discussion. Chelsea have offered 12 million euros [£8.3m] for him? Vieri is not on the market."

Vieri has endured an indifferent season and openly criticised his club following the sale of Hernan Crespo to Chelsea earlier this summer. On the pitch, the former Juventus forward has scored just five of the 20 goals netted by Inter in Serie A this season. But Branca added: "We are talking about the forward of the national team. A striker that at Inter has scored so many goals. I reiterate, Vieri for us is a great resource and will return to be great."

The Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri, could rest some key players for tonight's Carling Cup tie against Reading in the wake of Sunday's energy-sapping victory over Manchester United and ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds. The midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron is struggling with the back injury which forced him to miss the clash with his former employers.

Frank Lampard has dismissed any hopes Reading might have that Chelsea would take it easy against them. "As soon as the United game was finished, the manager was thinking about Reading," he said. "We want to win every game and show a good attitude in every game. And the manager will tell you that we have to improve.

"We've also got to go and get a result in our League game at Leeds, otherwise Sunday's result is worthless. The manager instills that belief in us every day at training."

Ranieri's Reading counterpart, Steve Coppell, has been hit by a striker crisis and has only one fit forward, Nicky Forster. Shaun Goater is out for a month after a knee operation on Monday and Darius Henderson is nursing a groin injury. Coppell may tweak his midfield as Scott Murray is trying to regain his place in the starting XI after being restricted to the bench for the Watford game last Saturday.

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