Glenn Hoddle was yesterday reluctantly forced to discount Dennis Wise and Eddie Newton from the next stage of Chelsea's European adventure: two players both influential and English, and whose absence ensures another difficult managerial juggling act to assemble a side balanced and effective, and who conform to the "foreign" player regulations.
Wise's unavailability for the Cup-Winners' Cup semi-final with Real Zaragoza will be felt most keenly. He has missed seven games with a thigh injury, and is carrying the burden of a possible three-month jail sentence. His importance is such that Hoddle is contemplating sending him on holiday, in the belief that mental refreshment will enhance physical rehabilitation.
The squad fly to Spain this afternoon for Thursday's first leg, with Hoddle still mulling over his selection. It has been complicated by Kevin Hitchcock's error which let in Newcastle for a late equaliser on Saturday, as well as the loss of two automatic choices from the midfield department where Zaragoza are strongest.
Not that it is a new dilemma for a manager who has already called on 21 players to reach this stage. "Our season has been decimated by injury, and it has been a major factor in our inconsistency," he said.
Hoddle is also ensuring that his team are thoroughly versed in the less appealing side of the Continental game. "It is important that we are totally professional.
"I'm saying to the lads in training to do a bit of shirt-pulling and rolling over after tackles, all the kind of things we have just seen on the video tape. It's the way these teams like to play, to wind us up, but we must not retaliate, because that would be just playing into their hands."Reuse content