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Jul 9, 2013

Schwarzer's Chelsea move a 'gamble'

Mark Schwarzer's decision to sign with Premier League giants Chelsea is a big gamble which could become a concern for Australia's 2014 World Cup campaign, says former Socceroo Robbie Slater.

Veteran goalkeeper Schwarzer surprised by agreeing to a one-year contract with Chelsea on Tuesday even though he accepted Petr Cech remained the club's No.1 gloveman.

Slater, a former national teammate of Schwarzer's, said the move was risky and - with Cech having missed only 10 games in five years - would mean a lot less game time.

"For me, it's a big gamble," Slater told Fox Sports on Wednesday.

"For me, it's also a little bit surprising because I thought Mark left Fulham really because he wasn't guaranteed the No.1 position.

"We need Mark Schwarzer - particularly at his age - playing week-in, week-out to keep his reflexes sharp.

"Of course it could happen - with an injury or if something happens to Petr Cech - but, given the recent history of Cech, that looks very, very unlikely.

"If he doesn't play, it's a worry for the Socceroos."

The move took observers aback because Schwarzer declined the chance to stay at Fulham after they signed Dutch international goalkeeper Marten Stekelenburg, saying he wanted to be confident of being first choice at his new club ahead of the World Cup.

However, Schwarzer seemed less concerned after joining Chelsea under returning high-profile manager Jose Mourinho.

"Petr is number one - that goes without saying," 40-year-old Schwarzer told Sky Sports News.

"There's a lot of games throughout the season and, I know that if I'm pushing as hard as I can do, then there'll be opportunities along the way."

Former Socceroos coach Frank Farina was just as optimistic, saying he didn't think it would affect Schwarzer's bid for Brazil 2014 nor displease national coach Holger Osieck.

"They play so many games in the Premier League and Chelsea's involved in Europe as well with the FA Cup," he said.

"Mark will get game time, but probably not as much as he would as No.1.

"He's experienced and, what he's done for Australia in the past, I think Holger would accept that."

Slater added that while joining Mourinho would have been a major drawcard, so, too, would the club's proximity to his family home in neighbouring suburb Fulham.

Schwarzer left Craven Cottage after five years at the end of last season.

He is the first overseas player with more than 500 Premier League appearances, many for Middlesbrough, having moved to England from Sydney in 1996.

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