Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea reject talk of Zhirkov leaving

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has told unsettled Yury Zhirkov that he will not be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge.

The Russia international defender will make his first start for Chelsea this season against MSK Zilina in the Champions League tonight (Sky Sports 2 7.30pm) after claiming he is set to consider his future in January.

Zhirkov, signed for £18.2 million from CSKA Moscow last year, was hampered by knee problems during his first season at the club.

But while Zhirkov has already made his frustration clear, Ancelotti was quick to put an end to speculation by speaking out on the issue for the first time.

“I don't need to speak with him about the future,” said Ancelotti.

“That is because his future is here with Chelsea. He is a good player. He knows in this club, in the top teams, there is a lot of competition to play and for this reason, he has to improve.”

Ancelotti has been boosted by captain John Terry's fitness, but the Italian has made a number of changes from the side that beat West Ham 3-1 on Saturday.

Branislav Ivanovic moves to right-back with Paulo Ferreira dropping to the bench to accommodate Alex alongside Terry in defence. Daniel Sturridge replaces the suspended Didier Drogba in attack while Yossi Benayoun makes his first start in midfield alongside Michael Essien and John Mikel Obi.

Zilina are expected to be the group's whipping boys but they beat Sparta Prague to reach the group stages and Ancelotti is not taking their threat lightly.

“Zilina is a good team. I saw the game against Sparta Prague. They played well both games. They have ability up front, so we have to pay attention to them,” he added.

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