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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Stretched Chelsea to play big names in cups

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho claims he may not be able to rest some of his top stars against Macclesfield and Wycombe because he is running out of players.

Chelsea face resurgent Coca-Cola League Two side Macclesfield in the third round of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge tomorrow before meeting Wycombe from the same division in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

On paper, they represent two relatively easy games for the Barclays Premiership champions' multi-million pound squad but Mourinho insists he will not underestimate either opponent because of his side's lengthy injury list.

Chelsea will be without captain John Terry (back); Arjen Robben (hamstring); Carlo Cudicini (thigh); Petr Cech (skull); Joe Cole (foot) and Khalid Boulahrouz (knee) for the visit of Paul Ince's Macclesfield.

But Mourinho admits he cannot afford to bask in the relief of getting away from their pursuit of Manchester United at the top of the Premiership because he is unable to rotate some of his leading players.

England left-back Ashley Cole and midfielder Claude Makelele are the only two likely to be rested by the Portuguese coach.

Due to the club's injury toll, he has little strength in depth to allow players like Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack or even overworked defender Ricardo Carvalho to rest.

Mourinho said: 'It is not a relief, because they are important games and we have no players to play.

'Against Wycombe, we have the second leg at home. We have to be in that final and for the second leg I think we will be able to play with our best team and kill the semi-final.

'But the game against Macclesfield is dangerous, because we have no players.

'I think everybody needs a rest, but I cannot give a rest to some because we have no players.'

One player hoping to get another chance to shine if Mourinho opts to rest Cole is left-back Wayne Bridge.

Bridge has been kept out of Chelsea and England line-ups by the former Arsenal man and, while the left-back admits it is frustrating, he insists there is little room for self-pity.

Bridge said: 'It's hard. If you talk to any player who isn't involved week-in, week-out, and just gets little chances here and there, they'd tell you that sometimes motivation can drop a little bit.

'But it comes with the territory of being at a club like this where the manager has lots of top-quality options for each position.

'At Chelsea, everyone works so hard in training, whether they are playing regularly or not and that means that, when you do get a chance, you're always ready.

'Sometimes your head can drop - that's only natural. But it's never for long. I've got family around me to keep my spirits up and help me fight for my place.'