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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Scolari: Cole not for sale

Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has told Tottenham to forget about signing England midfielder Joe Cole.

The Blues' London rivals are understood to be monitoring Cole's situation at Stamford Bridge but the Brazilian is determined to hang on to the 27-year-old.

Cole has 18 months left on his deal at the club and has yet to be reassured he will be given a new one.

Talks about an extension to his current contract were put on hold earlier this season and Cole is thought be concerned about his long-term future.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is hoping to exploit the situation in the summer.

Ideally, Redknapp would like to try to sign him this month but knows he will have a better chance at the end of the season.

Cole is understood to have grown frustrated at being constantly replaced by Scolari this season and has only completed a full 90 minutes on one occasion.

That was against Manchester United in September and he showed his disappointment when he was taken off for the 12th game in a row against Southend in the FA Cup last Saturday.

But when asked whether Cole will be at the club in the long term, Scolari declared: ''Yes, he will. He is a fantastic player and important for the club and for me. He scores many goals and his future is here.''

Scolari is boosted ahead of their trip to United on Sunday by the return of captain John Terry.

He has missed the last three games through suspension after being red-carded in the goalless draw at Everton.

''It is important for us that John is back because he is our captain and a man who has a good position on the pitch,'' said Scolari.

''He is a leader and plays very well every game. I think on Sunday the opposing players will respect him as well. I have five central defenders in very good condition and this is very good for me.''

Scolari also believes the trip to Old Trafford is the perfect fixture to motivate his squad after the disappointment of their FA Cup third-round draw against Southend.

''It is the perfect game to lift them all,'' said Scolari. ''It is a fantastic game. I think half of the world will be watching this game.

''The players don't need any motivation. It is very good for us after Southend because it was not a normal result.

''We had 27 shots and scored one goal, they had three shots and scored one goal. This game is two very good teams who have fantastic players.

''We need to win because they are four points behind us and have two games in hand.

''Those two games are not against us. It is not in our hands and we need to think about winning this game.

''If we win, we are in front of Manchester United and we have 18 games to play. If you lose one game or three points against a direct opponent like United, you are in trouble. But all the games are a test for our players, we need to win all the games.

''I think United are playing very well. They win many games, sometimes 1-0 but 1-0 is three points.

''I have lost many games with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge but we have done well away from home. Sometimes when you play at home it is more difficult than playing away.

''Maybe now it is more difficult at Stamford Bridge than away from home.

''It is an important game, different game. It is not a 'derby' but it is an exciting game for the players, for me, for the people and for the world.''

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