New players not needed, says Scolari

Chelsea manager rules out signings despite agreeing to let Bridge join Man City
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The Independent Football

Luiz Felipe Scolari has claimed he does not expect to make any January signings for Chelsea, despite sanctioning the £12m move of Wayne Bridge to Manchester City.

The left-back was at Chelsea's Cobham training base yesterday receiving treatment on a minor injury, but has been given permission to speak to City manager Mark Hughes after the two clubs agreed a fee.

Yet, despite being linked with a raft of players and the likely exit of centre-half Alex – and potentially striker Didier Drogba – Scolari insists he will not be looking for reinforcements.

Scolari met with chief executive Peter Kenyon yesterday afternoon. But speaking ahead of that tête-à-tête he said: "I don't say to Peter that I need to buy some players. I have a good squad. I don't expect to buy anyone. Now is the time for speculation. Every day you see 10 players linked with Chelsea to buy or sell.

"For five days I haven't spoken to Peter about anything. I know sometimes the walls have ears but I haven't spoken to Peter from 25 December until today. I'm happy with my players here, I don't want other players."

One new name on the Chelsea teamsheet for today's FA Cup third round meeting with League One Southend will be Michael Mancienne, who until now has been reckoned good enough for England but not for Chelsea.

The 20-year-old defender received a shock call-up from Fabio Capello for England's friendly win in Germany in November. He will not be allowed to return to Wolves where he has spent the last three months on loan.

"Mancienne has come back and will stay with me," said Scolari. "He won't go out any more on loan. Now I have seen some games and given him time to grow up. Now he's better than before. If I have injuries I am not afraid any more."

Mancienne will make his first start for the club, nearly 13 years after first coming to their attention as an eight-year-old, with John Terry suspended and Alex injured.

Scolari will also take the opportunity to rest goalkeeper Petr Cech for what should be a straight-forward afternoon at Stamford Bridge, even with the embarrassing memories of their Carling Cup defeat to Burnley still fresh in the mind.

"I have some problems in the squad," Scolari added. "Five or six players who have played a lot more games will not be involved in this game. I know the history. It's a fantastic competition and the players like to play and arrive in the final. But now is the time to train and look at some situations for the players.

"Five or six won't play. Michael Ballack is suspended, John Terry is suspended, José Bosingwa has a little injury. Petr Cech won't play. But I have a good squad and I receive two or three young players.

"When I arrived, I had four central defenders, but since then I've never had four. I've had three or two and had many injuries."

A tie devoid of drama or controversy would be warmly welcomed by Scolari, with tales of dressing-room unrest and reports of unhappiness with the Brazilian leaking out of the club at the same rate they are dropping points in the Premier League.

But Scolari insisted: "The players love me. They don't come in and say 'I love you' but I feel my relationship with my players.

"Your wife does not come in every day and say 'I love you, I love you' but you know she does. I know my players love me, because we've had situations where it is possible to know this."