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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 22, 2008

Grant facing selection dilemma over star duo

Avram Grant admits he is facing one of the toughest decisions of his managerial career ahead of Sunday's Carling Cup final against Tottenham at Wembley.

Grant is agonising over whether to recall captain John Terry and midfielder Frank Lampard for the season's first cup final after leaving them on the sidelines against Olympiacos in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Terry has played just one game since recovering from a fractured foot and Lampard has started twice since he shook off a troublesome thigh problem he sustained in the 4-4 Boxing Day draw with Aston Villa.

Both players were absent when Chelsea clinched a place in the final and while Grant says it is not his intention to punish them for being injured, he accepts there is a case of rewarding those who got them to Wembley.

'I think always about the next game,' admitted Grant. 'John and Frank were injured but I don't intend to punish any player that wants to play.

'They both wanted to play every game, even every training game, but they were injured. I am not going to punish them for that or because other players played very good.

'Rewarding players is not the main thing but I am thinking about that. It is not an easy decision.

'I prefer to think about the players who play. I will always be asked about the players who are not playing.

'John is a great captain even when he is not playing. He had a big influence on Tuesday when he was not playing. He is also a great defender but I think the other two defenders did a great job up until now so it is not an easy decision.

'It is not an easy decision because Alex and Ricardo Carvalho were very good. John, before his injury, was excellent and in training is very good, so it is a very hard decision.

'We have training tomorrow. When you have big players in a team like Chelsea it is always a difficult decision. It was not an easy decision on Tuesday.

'But also it was not a good situation when they were out, I think it was worse. Always there is a situation that is not easy but this is my life and I like it.

'I don't think players are computers, you need to respect them but I have to take a decision that is good for the club - long and short term.

'I am the boss and the boss needs to see what is good for the club. To take over Chelsea in the middle of the year is not like taking over other clubs. Chelsea always want to succeed.'

Grant replaced deposed Jose Mourinho last September and has suffered just two defeats against Arsenal and Manchester United.

The record of the 'Special One' would have been daunting for the most experienced of managers but Grant has seized his chance with relish.

Mourinho led Chelsea to two Barclays Premier League titles, two Carling Cups and an FA Cup success in three heady years at Stamford Bridge.

But Grant does not feel he is under pressure to land his first trophy in order for him to kill off the memory of Mourinho's achievements.

'We don't need to kill the ghost of Jose Mourinho because he did a good job,' said Grant.

'We don't need to do it. I am doing my job in Chelsea and until now the staff and the players have done a good job. If we win the trophy it will be good but if not, we will keep our way to put Chelsea where they need to be.

'It will be the same in the next three months and maybe the next years. I like to win every game, I don't like to lose or even draw. Especially when you come to a cup final. I want to win.

'We want to win anyway because we are in a cup final. I feel good with what we have done - we have won a lot of games and done it in the right way. But I am a person who always wants better.

'On Sunday, it is not me that I need to worry about. It is good for the club and the players to win games. Every big club wants to win all the trophies, it has not happened before.

'It is important to the club and the fans, you don't go to Wembley not to win games.

'I think it will be an exciting game. We both like to attack and I think it will be a quality final. Tottenham have been excellent in the last few months. It will be a difficult game for us and them.'

Like Grant, Tottenham coach Juande Ramos took over the club midway through the season.

He has since turned the club's fortunes around after taking over from the sacked Martin Jol and Grant is full of admiration for his adversary.

Grant added: 'They play good football and it is not easy to play against them. The coach before did a good job but this season Tottenham were not so good.

'I think Juande is a great coach and a great person. I know him personally. He has a lot of knowledge about football and in my opinion he has been a big success in Tottenham so far.'