YURI BACK TO FITNESS

Yuri Zhirkov looks set to shake off his injury problems and start training this week. Chelsea are facing a number of injury crisis with a host of star players already out of the season opening match at Wembley for the community shield. It doesn’t look great for Abramovich from his Chelsea Hospitality seat!

Both Drogba and Petr Cech are likely to miss the clash with arch rivals Manchester united at Wembley and might further miss their season opener against West Bromwich Albion at the Bridge. However the good news is that Yossi Benayoun and Yuri Zhirkov are likely to start training this week.

ZHIRKOV STRUGGLING WITH INJURY

Chelsea defender Yuri Zhirkov says that he is still struggling with a niggling injury. Zhirkov, 26, joined Chelsea from CSKA Moscow last summer for a fee believed to be in the region of £18 million, but a knee injury restricted his involvement and he did not start in the Premier League until late December. Chelsea’s chances of winning the Champions League are better if Zhirkov is playing.

Yuri Zhirkov was able to play regular football during Ashley Cole’s absence earlier this year and made a positive contribution to the club’s title success, but he has now revealed that he still suffering from the problem and could require further surgery.

“I had to miss a major part of the pre-season preparations,” he told Sport Express. “After my summer holidays, I still had sharp pain in my knees and had to visit Moscow for consultations, and also to consult with a doctor from Germany in London.

“The medical procedures and exercises helped me feel much better than last year, but the pain still bothers me after matches and trainings. In general, though, my health is much better than last year.

“I’ve decided that one month should be enough for me to return to my peak form. If I don’t manage to get rid of my problems, it will be necessary to do something about it. I’m looking optimistically at my future and I’m sure that I will shake off my injury, although I don’t know when it will happen.”

ZHIRKOV GOING NOWHERE

Carlo Ancelotti has denied reports that Yuri Zhirkov could leave Chelsea in the January transfer Window. The Russia international had previously claimed that he may have to quit the Stamford Bridge club in January in search of regular first team football. A number of free bets have been placed with bookies that Zhirkov will leave in January, on loan.

Yuri Zhirkov, who is comfortable playing at left full-back or on the left-hand-side of midfield, has struggled to make an impression in England since his move from CSKA Moscow back in the summer of 2009, largely due to the impressive form of Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda.

Although despite the Russian’s concerns with regards to his Chelsea future, Ancelotti is adamant that he won’t be allowed to leave the club.

“I don’t need to speak with him about the future,” Ancelotti told reporters. “That is because his future is here with Chelsea. He is a good player. He knows in this club, in the top teams, there is a lot of competition to play and for this reason, he has to improve.

“But I think that he will have the possibility to play a lot of games this year, because we are involved in a lot of competitions. We need to have all the players fit and ready to play.”

ZHIRKOV CLOSE TO RETURN

Chelsea midfielder Yuri Zhirkov is close to returning from his injury after he trained with his teammates. Mikel has resumed training less than three weeks after he suffered a knee ligament injury in the 3-1 defeat against Arsenal. He was expected to be out for a month but the midfielder could be ready for the trip to Bolton on 24 January.

Yuri Zhirkov, who hasn’t featured since November due to a calf and Achilles problem, is in light training while Alex is back at the club after an operation in Brazil on a knee injury and is on target to return next month.

ZHIRKOV FAILS TO RECOVER

Yuri Zhirkov has not recovered from his calf injury yet and will not play against Bolton. Frank Lampard will miss out once again for Chelsea, while skipper John Terry is a doubt ahead of their journey to the North West.

Lampard has been unable to shake off a calf injury, leading to his absence, while Terry is expected to be available despite picking up a back problem.

Ancelotti remains without Alex (knee), Yuri Zhirkov (calf) and Yossi Benayoun (Achilles).

YURI INJURIED

Chelsea’s Yuri Zhirkov is suffering with his calf injury so he is a doubt to play against Fulham. Luiz, signed from Benfica on transfer deadline day, made his debut as a second-half substitute in last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool, and manager Carlo Ancelotti has now confirmed the Brazil international will be in his starting XI at Craven Cottage.

Jose Bosingwa could be the man to make way for Luiz, with Ancelotti revealing the player is doubtful with an unspecified injury, while Alex (knee) and Yuri Zhirkov (calf) remain sidelined.

And the Italian is expected to stick with the attacking trio of Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka despite their disappointing showing against Liverpool last time out.

ZHIRKOV PLANS TO LEAVE CHELSEA

Yuri Zhirkov has said that he will be leaving Chelsea if he does not get any chances in the future. The Russia midfielder, who joined the Premier League champions from CSKA Moscow for £18m in July 2009 is quoted in the Sun as saying: “My only target at the moment is to get back into the main Chelsea team. If I’m successful with that, all the other issues will resolve themselves.

“But if I fail to achieve that between now and the summer, I will start thinking of other possibilities.”

The 27-year-old has featured in 17 matches for Chelsea this season, most recently as a late substitute in their 2-0 Champions League victory over FC Copenhagen on Tuesday. “My condition has visibly improved,” added Zhirkov.

ZHIRKOV REPLACED AGAINST MANU

Yuri Zhirkov was one of the players who tried to unsuccessfully change the match against Man Utd for Chelsea. It might be a little late for the liking of Chelsea fans, but Carlo Ancelotti has finally made some changes in the 70th minute of the match, bringing on left winger Florent Malouda and forward Nicolas Anelka for Yuri Zhirkov and Didier Drogba in like for like changes. Chelsea’s tactics seem to be working, so Ancelotti simply felt the need to replace some players with fresh legs.

The Malouda switch was an obvious one, but everyone was stunned when Didier Drogba’s name and not that of Fernando Torres was called to come off for Nicolas Anelka. Drogba has been much more effective than Torres in this match, and no one was more confused at the substitution than he was. Drogba shook the hand of his manager when he came off and was not disrespectful, but still, at the same time, looked absolutely dumbfounded that he had been substituted off. Frankly, so am I.

ZHIRKOV IS READY TO PLAY

Yuri Zhirkov has claimed Chelsea’s medical staff denied him the chance to take part in the run-in despite him feeling he had recovered from injury.Zhirkov, 27, has endured a difficult spell at Stamford Bridge since signing from CSKA Moscow in 2009, with injuries hampering his opportunities at the club. He has suffered problems with his Achilles and knees this season and his most recent appearance for the club came from the bench in the 1-0 Champions League defeat at home to Manchester United at the start of April.