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Chelsea's Carlo Ancelotti wary of Wayne Rooney absence

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Rooney injury could spur Man Utd - Ancelotti

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti says Wayne Rooney's absence may act as a spur for Manchester United in Saturday's game between the two title-chasing sides.

Rooney's ankle injury means he will miss the crunch Premier League clash at Old Trafford, which sees second-placed Chelsea take on leaders United.

"Sometimes a team can give more than 100% when a very important player is out," said Ancelotti.

"They have the experience and the players to support the loss of Rooney."

United announced on Friday that the ligament damage suffered by Rooney in the team's Champions League quarter-final first leg defeat at Bayern Munich will keep him out for "two to three weeks".

I don't think there is any doubt that it is a massive match

Gary Neville

Despite relief that the injury is not more serious, the loss of the 24-year-old, who has scored 34 goals this season, remains a major blow for the reigning Premier League champions.

And Chelsea's Italian boss said his team had to use Rooney's absence to their advantage in what could provide the final momentum shift in a fascinating end-of-season title tussle.

"Everyone knows how Wayne Rooney is important for this team, he is a fantastic player," said Ancelotti. "He has had a fantastic season but his injury could be an advantage for us.

"We want to keep control of the game and to do this in Old Trafford is not easy. But we will try. Saturday is a very important game because we play a fantastic team who are top of the league now but I have always said the title will be decided at the end of the season.

"We will have a very good chance because we are fit and our confidence has improved after wins against Portsmouth and Aston Villa. We want to do our best. The destiny after the game will be with the winners, but nothing will be decided.

"If we are able to win, it is better for us. A draw is not a bad result because there are a lot of games and everyone of them is very important.

"But it is very difficult to win at Old Trafford. It is a fantastic stadium for me also, not only for Sir Alex. I won the Champions League there in 2003 and that is the best memory for me in my career."

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Osgoodtheking

Ancelotti has been boosted by the return to fitness of Didier Drogba, who missed two days' training with a minor groin problem.

"Drogba was out but trained very good today [Thursday]," said Ancelotti. "We have trained very well this week. The team is fit. He is a very important player, he has scored 30 goals. The other strikers did a great job against Villa without him, but he is very important to us."

A victory would move United four points clear of Chelsea with five games remaining, but the Londoners are in fine form after scoring 12 goals in their last two matches.

Dimitar Berbatov will deputise for Rooney, while long-term injury sufferers Owen Hargreaves, John O'Shea and Federico Macheda could return to the bench.

"I haven't liked leaving Dimitar out - and now he is in," said United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Having one striker has been quite successful for us away from home in Europe in particular. It suited the pattern of our game away from home.

"But it is not easy leaving out a good player like that because he can make something happen in the last third. We just have to decide the best formation."

Manchester United defender Gary Neville played down the absence of Rooney on Saturday, saying other players must shoulder more responsibility.

"Wayne will be a miss for us because he has been in such great form," said Neville. "But in the past people have always stood up to the plate and contributed.

"We have had key players out for big matches before and still won them. We have gone into finals without two or three major players and come through it.

"Chelsea have players missing. They don't have Michael Essien or Ashley Cole. All teams get injuries and suspensions on the run-in. You have to cope with them."

And Neville admitted that the result at Old Trafford would give significant momentum to the winners going into the final five games.

"I don't think there is any doubt that it is a massive match," he said. "We are aware they have hit a little bit of form.

"Aston Villa had the best defence in the league until last weekend and they have had a week to prepare, although I am not sure that will have too much of an effect.

"There is a big reward for the team that wins. Whilst I don't think the title will be decided by this one result, the team that wins will have confidence and momentum going into the last five games."



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see also
Man Utd 1-2 Chelsea
03 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Alan Hansen's column
01 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Rooney out for two to three weeks
02 Apr 10 |  Man Utd
Bayern Munich 2-1 Man Utd
30 Mar 10 |  Europe
Tuesday football as it happened
30 Mar 10 |  Football
Defiant Ancelotti expects to stay
23 Mar 10 |  Chelsea
Defiant Ancelotti targets double
19 Mar 10 |  Chelsea


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