Gallas set for more time on the bench

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The Independent Football

William Gallas will not be in Chelsea's squad for the Community Shield game against Liverpool on Sunday, his manager, Jose Mourinho, said last night.

"In Cardiff, no?" Mourinho said dismissively when asked about Gallas's involvement before joking that the French defender was still " suffering from heavy legs" after his time on holiday on the beaches of Guadeloupe in the West Indies.

Mourinho remains angry with Gallas because of his late return to pre-season training and, more importantly, his continued refusal to sign a new contract. Gallas, who has one year left on his present contract, remains adamant that he wants to leave the club.

Both sides are now prepared to run down that contract even though Gallas threatened to try and buy himself out and Chelsea have already stripped him of his No 13 shirt which has been handed to Michael Ballack. It appears certain that he will not start the season as first-choice with either Wayne Bridge or Paulo Ferreira at left-back and Ricardo Carvalho partnering John Terry in the centre.

Despite the need for discipline Chelsea have to be careful. Last night's friendly against Celtic, which ended in a 1-1 draw, showed that they require the accomplished Gallas. Bridge is desperately short of confidence and performed poorly against the Scottish champions while Mourinho acknowledged that his pared-down squad is desperately short of numbers.

They were also desperately short of fans last night. This was their only home friendly before the season's starts ­ and also the opportunity for supporters to get a first glimpse of both Ballack and Andrei Shevchenko at Stamford Bridge. And yet the attendance, bolstered by the visitors' fans, was just 20,807, in a stadium with a capacity of 42,000, although Chelsea also clearly paid the price for retaining their high admission prices.

It was a curiosity that Celtic were playing at all, given that their domestic season has started, although it was clearly a money-making exercise rather than maintaining fitness.

This was only Chelsea's third pre-season friendly but also their third inside five days ­ and in three different countries. It is a curious schedule and Mourinho again repeated his concerns when he said how tricky it was to be ready for next week's kick-off having had 15 players at the World Cup. A "crash course" in fitness was needed, he said.

Some also need a crash course in confidence although Shaun Wright-Phillips ­ who will stay this season ­ scored his first goal for Chelsea to cancel out Gary Caldwell's early strike. It was an accomplished finish, on half-time, by Wright-Phillips, although the goal his side conceded was distinctly sloppy. Indeed, it was a slipshod performance from Chelsea and they have only a few days to get it right.

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