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Chelsea can cope with loss of key players

Florent Malouda insists Chelsea have the quality to maintain a challenge for glory both domestically and in Europe while four of their key players are missing.

The France winger was on the scoresheet for Carlo Ancelotti's side in their 5-0 demolition of Watford in the third round of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Holders Chelsea will travel to meet Preston in the fourth round of the competition and Malouda believes their stunning performance against the Hornets proved they can live without African stars Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien.

“We have strength and it doesn't matter the players who come in or go out,” said Malouda.

“You could see we were confident against Watford. Everyone is fit and ready to help the club reach the targets - we want to win everything.

“Clubs can't win the title in December or January but it's better to be on top. We're looking to be top in May so it's important for our confidence that we are still top now. Our big squad is our big strength.”

Malouda, 29, who has denied criticising coach Carlo Ancelotti or team-mate Frank Lampard in an interview published in France over the weekend, is backing Sturridge to help fill the void left by Drogba and Kalou.

“Daniel has been wonderful in training and deserves his chance,” added Malouda.

Belfast Telegraph