Worries force five Chelsea players out of Israel game

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The Independent Online

Five key Chelsea players have pulled out of the team for tomorrow's UEFA Cup game against Hapoel Tel-Aviv in Israel because of fears for their security.

The squad left London without French World Cup winner Emmanuel Petit, Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, England international Graeme Le Saux, Frenchman William Gallas and Spanish defender Albert Ferrer.

Chelsea's managing director Colin Hutchinson said players had been given a choice of travelling to Israel and would not be penalized for staying behind.

"If we had pulled out then it only would it have resulted in a ban but it would also have sent a bad message to European football and started the fragmentation of European football."

The club captain and French World Cup defender Marcel Desailly also pulled out, with an achilles injury. Italian forward Gianfranco Zola will captain the Blues in the absence of Desailly.

The match is one of 22 second-round, first leg UEFA Cup matches played being around Europe tomorrow.

Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri said the six withdrawals would give the club's more inexperienced players a good chance to impress.

"I understand these players' fears but I am a positive man and Chelsea have some good players so we are sure to go there with a good team and have a good game. I like the young players who have come in this trip and this may be an opportunity for some new faces."

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