Selection poser for Blues boss

Internationals have to fight for places

Mikel: Back to clean up act

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Chelsea coach Avram Grant has a selection headache looming when his Africa Cup of Nations stars come back from international duty.

So far Nigerian John Obi Mikel is the only one to have returned from the competition, with Ivory Coast players Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba facing Ghanian team-mate Michael Essien when the two nations meet in Saturday's third-placed play-off.

But Grant has warned the players that they will have to fight for their shirts after Chelsea's recent good form, aware that a win against Premiership rivals Liverpool on Sunday could take their unbeaten home run to 76 games.

"We have proved that we can do without them, but we also proved we can do it with them also," Grant said.

"Of course, when you have a bad situation, you also have a positive situation.

"But other players have shown themselves at an important time. Now there will be competition between them, but it is also the time to say good words about the players who have done so well in their absence."


Youngster Mikel has also said he wants to clean up his act after seeing red against Everton, his fourth sending off in his short Chelsea career to date and giving Grant cause for concern.

"I haven't spoken to him about it but I will always be happy to finish the game with 11 players," the Israeli said.

"Football is not for robots, it is for men. Players, especially when they are young, make some mistakes.

"But we love them even when they make mistakes. The problem is whether they learn from them. Mikel is only 20-years-old and sometimes he makes mistakes, but he is learning," Grant added.

England midfielder Frank Lampard has recovered from a thigh problem in time for the giant clash against Liverpool live on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday, from 3.30pm.