Saturday, November 22, 2008


Felipe Scolari's new experiences in English football continue on Saturday afternoon with his first meeting with Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear.

The appointment of the 61-year-old former Wimbledon boss as Kevin Keegan's successor at St James' Park was one of the surprise stories of the season. However Scolari, despite their football paths taking very different directions up until now, won't be caught unawares by his opposite number's team.

'I asked Ray Wilkins about Joe Kinnear and his style,' Scolari revealed as he looked forward to a match between the first and the 17th placed teams.

'I know the players like him and when the players like a coach, it is because he has brought something different. Tomorrow is my chance to meet him, to know more about him after the game.'

For once, Scolari goes into a game with a better injury outlook than the other manager. Reports suggest Newcastle will be without Steven Taylor, Joey Barton, Mark Viduka, Xisco, Ignacio Gonzalez and Alan Smith.

Scolari has announced that Petr Cech and Joe Cole are back in the Chelsea squad, Cech having recovered from a calf strain and Cole from a hamstring problem.

Ashley Cole, who was on the bench at West Brom but not fully fit, will also be available, although Scolari warns the two Coles are not yet 100 per cent.

'When you don't play for 15 or 20 days, you are ready but some movements on the pitch are difficult.'

The manager is hopeful Frank Lampard will be okay to play having returned to training yesterday [Thursday] following a rib injury. Alex, who suffered a groin strain against Burnley, is rated possible but Juliano Belletti is definitely out.

On those returning from midweek internationals, Scolari reports:

'The players I received yesterday are in good condition. I didn't receive Deco, Paulo Ferreira or José Bosingwa because they arrived [from Brazil] at 6pm. After 15 hours flying, it is impossible to train.

'But if they can play a full game for the national team, why not play tomorrow?'

However Scolari does lose Didier Drogba who begins a three-match suspension.

'Between the three games we have Champions League which Didier can play but it is a chance for Didier to train hard and make something more for his knee and for his ankle with the fitness coach.

'We lost Didier from games but we have won him for some different work and when Didier comes back, I think he can be back better than before.'

Scolari also discussed Michael Ballack, scorer against Newcastle in our most recent meeting.

Reports in the media suggest talks will soon be underway over the German's contract which has a year's option available at the end of this season.

'He is a player who is very professional and he was one of the players I like to work with,' stated Scolari.

'He has a charming style, direct, and I like this and in future we will see what will happen with Chelsea but for age, it is not a problem because he is young and he plays very well. If he wants [to stay], I want him and if Chelsea have a deal, it is fantastic for me.'

Chelsea TV will have further exclusive words from Scolari as he looks forward to the weekend's game in Cobham on Friday at 6.30pm.

Chelsea Plus gives you the opportunity to watch the manager's pre-match press conference now.

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