Duff and Robben in race to make Anfield trip

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The Independent Online

Chelsea have serious doubts whether either Arjen Robben or Damien Duff will be fit to start next Tuesday's Champions' League semi-final second leg against Liverpool at Anfield. Robben is still struggling with a strained tendon in his left ankle and was seen limping after Wednesday night's game in which he came on as a substitute after 60 minutes. There is also concern over the tightness of Duff's hamstring in his left leg.

Chelsea have serious doubts whether either Arjen Robben or Damien Duff will be fit to start next Tuesday's Champions' League semi-final second leg against Liverpool at Anfield. Robben is still struggling with a strained tendon in his left ankle and was seen limping after Wednesday night's game in which he came on as a substitute after 60 minutes. There is also concern over the tightness of Duff's hamstring in his left leg.

Neither player is likely to be risked for tomorrow's Premiership match against Bolton Wanderers, in which Chelsea can clinch their first league title for 50 years, although Duff is closer to fitness than the Dutchman who has suffered an injury-plagued season. When asked if either would make the tie on Tuesday, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said: "Duff, I think so. Robben, I don't know."

If neither player is able to play it will be a severe blow to Chelsea's chances of reaching next month's final. The cutting edge provided by both was desperately missed in the goalless draw at Stamford Bridge and it could be that Mourinho has to gamble on one or the other. Liverpool, however, have their own problems and there were bitter recriminations yesterday over the late booking for influential midfielder Xabi Alonso for a challenge on Eidur Gudjohnsen which rules him out of the match.

Television replays showed there was no contact while, privately, Liverpool officials and players have expressed their anger over the incident claiming that Gudjohnsen taunted Alonso when he was on the ground telling him he knew he would now be banned.

It's an allegation that the Chelsea player furiously denied yesterday. "I would never try to get a fellow professional booked," he said. "The referee just gave the foul and got the book out. I understand his disappointment and it's a shame for him to miss the next game. But I'm a Chelsea player so there's nothing I can do to stop it. I didn't agree with Joe Cole's booking either."

There is no mechanism for a Uefa appeal - the only redress for a booking is mistaken identity - with Alonso saying: "You can see on the replay I didn't touch the player. When I saw the yellow card I couldn't believe it because I knew what it meant." His suspension is likely to mean a return for Dietmar Hamann who has made a quicker than expected recovery after damaging knee ligaments a month ago. There was also a health scare over Steven Gerrard, it emerged yesterday, ahead of the first leg which may explain his relatively subdued performance. On the day of the match the Liverpool captain, who had been suffering increasing pain, had surgery in a dental hospital to lance an abscess.

After the match he said that Liverpool were satisfied with the result. "It is a massive task to come here to Stamford Bridge and keep a clean sheet," the 24-year-old said.

"It now sets it up nicely for Tuesday night." Gerrard added: "The confidence running through us on these type of nights is incredible. European nights at Anfield are something special....we will need brave men. We need 11 gladiators."

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech repeated the post-match claims of Mourinho that the advantage was with Chelsea. "In the end a draw is a good result," he said. "It's a better result for us than for them. We just need to score one at Anfield and we know we can do that because we've already won there this season." The Czech international - who has now kept 27 clean sheets this season, a new Chelsea record - also added that the absence of Alonso "will make a difference".

His confidence was shared by midfielder Joe Cole who likened the scenario to the Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester United, when Chelsea also drew the first leg before reaching the final where they beat Liverpool. "We know what we can do," he said. "It's a bit similar to that, because we played well in the home leg but without scoring... it could turn out to be a good result."

Meanwhile PSV Eindhoven yesterday confirmed that they could be willing to take back unsettled Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman, who left the Dutch club for £5m last summer. "I am not saying that it is not an option to approach Mateja," said PSV coach Guus Hiddink. "I think it is a matter that needs discussing quietly with all parties."

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