Deco blames Mourinho for Lampard's absence

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The Independent Online

The Barcelona midfielder Deco has questioned Jose Mourinho's caution in withdrawing Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard from the tsunami appeal match - just a week before Chelsea's Champions' League visit to the Nou Camp.

The Barcelona midfielder Deco has questioned Jose Mourinho's caution in withdrawing Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard from the tsunami appeal match - just a week before Chelsea's Champions' League visit to the Nou Camp.

Drogba and Lampard did not take part in the fund-raising match in the Nou Camp on Tuesday night after Chelsea informed the sport's world governing body, Fifa, they were both injured.

Deco, who won last season's Champions' League trophy at Porto under Mourinho, seemed to imply his former manager had been protecting his players' fitness. The London club face Newcastle in the FA Cup on Sunday, before their Champions' League tie with Barcelona next Wednesday. They end the week with the Carling Cup final against Liverpool.

The Portugal international, who took part in the friendly, declared: "All the players really wanted to play. I am certain that Mourinho had something to do with them not coming."

A spokesman for Chelsea replied: "Didier Drogba was requested but he has been out injured for a few weeks and was pulled out of the game on that basis. Frank Lampard was then requested but he picked up an injury at Everton last weekend and Fifa were informed as soon as possible of his unavailability."

Lampard is expected to be fit for Sunday's game at St James' Park, while Drogba has been hoping to make a comeback soon from his groin problem.

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