You are here: HomeSports2015 10 14Article 387546

Soccer News of Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Source: The Guardian

Mourinho could ignore Rahman after Ivanovic injury

Baba Rahman Baba Rahman

José Mourinho is considering using Kurt Zouma as a full-back in Chelsea’s vital Premier League game against Aston Villa on Saturday after Branislav Ivanovic was ruled out for up to a month with a hamstring injury sustained while on international duty with Serbia.

Ivanovic, who has endured a miserable campaign to date, damaged a hamstring in the 2-0 win in Albania last week and returned to Cobham over the weekend for scans and treatment.

Those tests have suggested an absence of around three weeks at best, ruling him out of the visit of Villa when Chelsea will seek to revive their title defence after their worst start to a domestic campaign in 37 years.

The absence of the 31-year-old, who has featured consistently this season despite poor form and Chelsea having conceded 17 goals in eight games, would normally present an obvious route into the team for Baba Rahman, the Ghanaian left-back purchased for around £17m from Augsburg over the summer, with César Azpilicueta reverting to full-back duties on the opposite flank.

However, Mourinho has been unconvinced by Rahman’s adaptation to life in England and has limited his involvement to a Champions League appearance against Maccabi Tel Aviv and a Capital One Cup victory at Walsall.

“Baba Rahman arrived on the last day [of the transfer window] and he doesn’t know what it is to play in this kind of championship,” said Mourinho when asked about the Ghana international after the 3-1 home loss to Southampton immediately before the international break.

“He had no pre-season with us. He needs time to learn and adapt.

“At the same time, every team except Maccabi Tel Aviv is a team of giants. If you don’t have a minimum of five tall players good in the air, you are dead on set pieces. When I play Azpilicueta on the right and Baba on the left, I have only three. So we have to think about all the details.”

Rahman was unable to travel to the United States for Ghana’s friendly against Canada in Washington after visa issues, meaning the 21-year-old has been one of the few first-team players training at Cobham over the last 10 days.

But Villa’s threat at Stamford Bridge is likely to revolve around Rudy Gestede, whose ability in the air is his forte, suggesting Mourinho may seek a solution elsewhere.

Zouma, who has played in central defence this season and featured in midfield last term, can operate at full-back and may now deputise, with Gary Cahill – rested for England’s trip to Lithuania given recent back problems – and John Terry retained in the centre.

The France international could potentially fill in on either flank, with Azpilicueta retaining his place, having played at left-back on the club’s pre-season tour of the US this summer.

Mourinho watched the Spaniard play for his country in Kiev on Monday night.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the England Under-21 international midfielder, will start against Villa as Mourinho seeks to freshen up his side after seeing them lose half of their eight Premier League fixtures, dreadful form which prompted a public vote of confidence in his management from Roman Abramovich and his board.

He will most likely operate alongside Ramires, another who has been at Cobham since the Southampton loss, while Diego Costa will return from a three-match domestic suspension up front.