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Premier League

High fees put a stop to Grant's spending

Chelsea manager Avram Grant has revealed that a combination of high prices and a lack of quality players have prevented him from further strengthening his squad in the transfer window.

Chelsea have so far paid out around £27m on signing Nicolas Anelka from Bolton, Branislav Ivanovic from Lokomotiv Moscow and Franco di Santo from Chilean side Audax Italiano.

But the Israeli coach, preparing for the visit of Reading to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League tomorrow night, had wanted two more players to bolster a squad hit by injuries and by a number of players departing to compete in the African Nations Cup.

With just two days remaining to do business, Grant accepts it is highly unlikely there will be any more additions to his squad.

Although Grant would not reveal their targets, he was prevented from spending any more cash because of a failure to find quality players, with the right credentials, at the right price.

"We have only two days but I never stop looking," said Grant. "Even if you think you have the best team it can always improve, so I will not stop looking.

"I am happy with the squad and we will continue to look but I don't think we need to rush about these things. We didn't rush even when we had big, big problems. I think it is 90 per cent certain it will stay like it is.

"I am very happy with the backing I have had and the signings. Anelka gives us a lot of options to play in a different system with more high quality at a high level. Branislav Ivanovic is a player who can help us in the future and a club like us needs to think, not just about now, but the future.

"It is not easy to sign new players because you are looking for the best quality, personality, attitude and character. I am looking for the positive guys. There is a lot of pressure now.

"You need a positive personality in big clubs. Because with them it is easy to pass through the not-so-good days. You cannot win all the time.

"To find this combination in one person is possible but it is not easy. This is the reason I wanted two more players because the squad is short but we haven't found them at the moment.

"We didn't want to stay with one striker. We put Shaun Wright-Phillips as a midfield player and he has done very well, but he is not a midfield player.

"First it's a matter of money but it is not just that, it is a matter that we are looking for more than quality but I am quite pleased with the deals we have done.

"We didn't find the players that, at the moment, can be good for Chelsea. So we will continue with the squad. I am very happy with it. It is not easy because it gets shorter and shorter but we still have quality."

John Terry, who has a foot injury, is expected to be out for a further three weeks, but Frank Lampard could be involved in the weekend's game at Portsmouth.

Grant has been highly impressed with the form of Steve Sidwell. The 25-year-old midfielder joined the club on a free transfer from Reading last summer and has impressed during the last month when Chelsea have been hampered by the loss of four players on international duty in the African Nations Cup.

"Steve is important for us," said Grant. "We didn't know we would have so many injuries but we knew many players would go to the African Cup. This is one of the reasons we wanted him. In the last two games he has done a very good job.

"You have seen the quality of the squad in so many difficult times. I have a big satisfaction."