Guus Hiddink has firmly reminded Ashley Cole of his responsibilities but has not axed him from his squad following the Chelsea player’s arrest for being drunk and disorderly.
The club’s interim coach also had stern words with club captain John Terry and Michael Mancienne, after all three broke club rules by being out in the early hours of the morning just days before a crucial FA Cup tie.
Hiddink bravely responded to questions about Cole’s behaviour at the club’s pre-match press conference and maintained that Cole will be in the squad to face Coventry at the Ricoh Arena today — but with Paulo Ferreira out for the rest of the season because of ligament damage, the Dutchman is now short of options at left-back.
"Ashley will be in the squad. He has publicly apologised about his conduct and behaviour to the police officer, and it is a rather private matter, said Hiddink.
"If he regrets it deeply and makes his apologies directly then we have to close the case. That is why I tried to go with the daily routine, because we have an FA Cup match. But they must not repeatedly show conduct which is counter-productive to the team. We, as a club, are talking firmly."
Chelsea’s troubled season could be further defined inside the next five days.
They must overcome Coventry to reach the last four of the FA Cup and then take a one-goal lead to Juventus in the return leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.
Hiddink has now lost the services of Ferreira to an anterior ligament injury sustained in training — but on the plus side, both defender Ricardo Carvalho and midfielder Michael Essien are in the squad.
"Paulo is not in the squad because he got injured (on Thursday) and has anterior ligament damage. It means he is out for the season,” he added.
"But Essien and Carvalho both travel. I am happy to have two more players with international experience back in the squad.
"We want to get into the semi-finals of the FA Cup — the competition is highly regarded at home and abroad. But I have no priorities about the next two games.
"The next step is very important against Juve. But I have not got any specific priorities.”