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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Hilario does not fear being axed by pal Jose

Chelsea goalkeeper Hilario is ready to accept being dropped if coach Jose Mourinho opts to recall Italian Carlo Cudicini against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Cudicini is understood to have clashed with Mourinho before the UEFA Champions League tie with Barcelona in midweek after learning Hilario had kept his place in the side.

Hilario, the club's third-choice keeper before the head injuries sustained by Czech international Petr Cech and Cudicini in the 1-0 win over Reading last month, has grabbed his chance to shine in their absence.

But Cudicini declared himself fit again before their win over Sheffield United and was disappointed not to return against the Spanish giants in Europe.

But the Portuguese keeper Hilario will harbour no ill-feelings if Mourinho should select Cudicini ahead of him against Spurs.

Hilario said: 'Whenever I am playing or sitting on the bench, I am always eager to see Chelsea win.

'I am confident about my fitness and I will always respect the decision of the manager but I don't know whether I will be playing.

'We are working everyday for the purpose of improving our performance. I know it is a big opportunity for me. All I want is Chelsea to give me the conditions to work hard and improve.

'I don't think we have frustrated players at Chelsea. Chelsea is a great team and Carlo has given me a lot of help.

'In my experience I have been in situations where the number one has not played because of injury and I have had to take his place.

'But we are a team, a group, we play hard and I think the team that will win will be Chelsea.

'I want Chelsea to win whether I am playing or sitting on the bench.'

Hilario played for Porto for a total of four seasons, mainly as an understudy to Portugal keeper Vitor Baia, and it was there he and Mourinho struck up a firm friendship.

The Chelsea coach has received numerous bouts of criticism since he moved to England to take charge of Chelsea in the summer of 2004.

But Hilario believes that, despite of all the bad press, Mourinho's personality has not changed at all since the days when they were together at Porto.

'Jose Mourinho has been great for me and he continues to be a great man.

'He has not changed - his behaviour continues to be the same as when I first met him.'

At Tottenham striker Didier Drogba will look to add to his five Premiership goals having signed a new four-year contract yesterday.

'I am not playing well just because I wanted to sign a new contract,' the 28-year-old Ivory Coast international told Chelsea TV.

'I am playing well because I feel good and I am happy to train with my friends.

'I want to say thank you to Jose for believing in me since the beginning and now we will be together for a long time. The best period of my career I think.

'I am happy because when I came here it wasn't easy for me to say I would be signing a new contract with Chelsea, because everybody knows the first year was difficult.

'The second one was okay but I knew I could do better.'