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By ESPN Staff

Hiddink leaps to defence of under-fire Cech

Guus Hiddink has denied Petr Cech has lost confidence as Chelsea address the defensive frailties that have caused plenty of frayed nerves at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues head into tomorrow's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley knowing they must reverse a collapse that has seen them concede seven goals in two matches.

Cech admitted he was at fault for two of the goals and looked uncomfortable throughout the 4-4 Champions League draw with Liverpool.

The usually unflappable Czech keeper later defended his form and even Hiddink raised an eyebrow at his uncharacteristic mistakes after the game.

But today Hiddink, who has rubbished a report he has advised Chelsea to sign Tottenham Hotspur stopper Heurelho Gomes, gave Cech his full support.

''My thoughts on Petr are very positive because since I've been here he has done very good goalkeeping work,'' he said.

''We don't neglect the reality because we want to get better but Petr is an intelligent person and knows that he had one or two moments when it was not going as he wished. That's it.

''When a goalkeeper makes a mistake there's always direct consequences. Every now and then a keeper has the right to make an error and then we move on.

''I haven't said to Petr 'come here because we need to talk for three hours'. We did our analysis afterwards and that was it.

''We didn't want to over-emphasise it. He hasn't lost confidence. I've seen him in previous games and now in these matches.

''We don't want to over-focus on what went wrong but we must look at what he is able to do. He's smiling and relaxed in training.''

Hiddink rebuffed a story that emerged this morning claiming Chelsea had lost patience with Cech and were planning a summer move for Gomes, who has overcome a shaky start to life at White Hart Lane.

''It's news to me and has no single grain of truth in it,'' he said.

Hiddink is confident Chelsea's defensive problems are just a temporary blip.

''I'm not worried about the defence because before these games we had many clean sheets and the whole team was defending well,'' he said.

''The Bolton game last weekend shows that no team can neglect the opposition and play in a rather nonchalant or unconsidered way as we did in that match.

''The Liverpool game was played at a fast pace right until the end and there were lots of chances for both sides.''

The Dutchman added: ''The game cost us a lot of energy. It was an unpredictable scenario.

''It was watched all over the world and people enjoyed it very much. It cost a lot of energy physically and mentally to both teams and to the people who were around the players.''

Chelsea have won the FA Cup four times and Hiddink is an admirer of the competition.

''In many countries the cup is not that important but England is an exception where it is beautiful and important,'' he said.

''Abroad, Saturday afternoons when you were watching the semis and then the finals were very exciting. That means it's a very important competition.''

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