Third-choice keeper to get Chelsea start

Turnbull to play against West Ham – and Inter unless Cech or Hilario recover

Ross Turnbull will complete a long and unlikely journey today when he starts his first Premier League game for Chelsea in their London derby with West Ham United.

The 25-year-old former Middlesbrough No 3 is also in line for Tuesday's Champions League encounter with Internazionale, unless either Petr Cech, who has a calf injury, or Henrique Hilario, who is struggling with an injured groin, make an unexpectedly swift recovery.

The story of Turnbull's arrival in the Chelsea team at such a key moment in the season is one that will give hope and encouragement to thousands of young footballers struggling to make the grade in the lower reaches of the English game. Whether the story has a happy ending, only time will tell.

Turnbull gets his chance despite having only been on nodding acquaintance with top-flight football during his career. He was full of potential on signing for Middlesbrough in 2002 but then was sent out on loan to Darlington, Barnsley (twice), Bradford, Crewe Alexandra and Cardiff City in a quest to play more games. In all he played 67 games on loan. He was handed a chance last season at Middlesbrough when Mark Schwarzer signed for Fulham, but lost out to the Australian Brad Jones.

Turnbull did not believe his agent when he heard Chelsea were keen to sign him as a free agent last summer. The former England Under-20 international said in July: "When my agent called I said to him, 'Are you sure this isn't a wind-up?'"

Chelsea's interest in Turnbull was initiated by their goalkeeping coach, Christophe Lollichon, who vouched for him on the basis of his warm-up before Chelsea's 2-0 victory over Boro last season. Lollichon has been working hard on Turnbull's technique for three months, and today's opportunity will be as much a test of the coach's judgement and methods as an examination of the goalkeeper's character.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, yesterday stated his confidence in Turnbull, not that you would expect him to do otherwise as the only other option is 19-year-old Welshman Rhys Taylor, who has yet to appear in the first team. Turnbull can trump that, having started once, a meaningless Champions League group game with APOEL Nicosia in December.

Ancelotti said: "It's a big test, for sure. I think that he doesn't have a problem, though. He's a very quiet man. It's a good opportunity for him to show his quality. It's very, very difficult. I understand this. Ross understands this, too. But he has the quality to do well. Really, I'm not worried about this. He is a good goalkeeper, he has good quality. He won't be worried. He's very calm."

Ancelotti also claimed he is unworried about the ongoing contract dispute with Joe Cole, which seems certain to continue beyond the end of the season. Cole, 28, is out of contract in the summer and, despite his recent injury problems, wants a pay rise on his current £80,000-a-week deal, which Chelsea are refusing to sanction. Asked what the chances were of Cole being at the club next season, Ancelotti said: "100 per cent. The contract is not my concern, but he's told me he wants to stay here. Yes."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'