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Chelsea eye Munich finale in campaign swansong
Published : 13 May 2012 02:46:57
Roberto Di Matteo could be making his Stamford Bridge farewell when Chelsea wrap up their Premier League season against Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
But the thoughts of the interim first-team coach will be trained firmly on the looming Champions League final and he will be as interested by the injury count as the scoreline in a match that means little to either team.
Chelsea's defeat at Liverpool this week ended their hopes of finishing in the top four, while Blackburn's dreams of avoiding relegation disappeared when they lost at home to Wigan Athletic 24 hours earlier.
For Di Matteo and his squad, however, this game marks the final run-out before they face Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena on May 19.
And while Di Matteo will not include any of his likely starters in Munich in his XI to face Blackburn, the raft of injuries and suspensions that have narrowed his options for that clash mean he can ill-afford to lose more personnel.
But Chelsea's main concern centres on the fitness of Gary Cahill and David Luiz, who are both carrying hamstring injuries and have been ruled out of making even a substitute appearance against Blackburn.
"David Luiz and Gary Cahill both won't be available this Sunday," Di Matteo said.
"Now we're trying our hardest working towards next Saturday in the hope they'll be in the group training next week."
Whether Di Matteo is given the opportunity to work with his players after the final remains uncertain.
Installed on a temporary basis following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas, Di Matteo has enjoyed unexpected success.
Last weekend's victory over Liverpool at Wembley delivered the FA Cup to the London club and Di Matteo could follow that with the Champions League trophy.
The Chelsea hierarchy remain adamant no decision on the next permanent manager will be taken until after the end of the season.
"I'm not important here," Di Matteo said. "This is totally about the club, the players and the team: their focus and being able to finish the season with a bit of success.
"I'll always have a good relationship with the fans. I'm an ex-player here. I've got a legacy and no-one would take that away. That'll always be there.
"There's no reason for me to have spoken to anyone yet. I'm very relaxed and focused on doing my job until the last game. That's all."
Blackburn manager Steve Kean admits he will struggle to keep his squad together in the coming months.
Rovers' relegation was confirmed with their 1-0 defeat by Wigan on Monday, bringing to an end a turbulent campaign that has seen Kean and owners Venky's face constant protests from supporters.
As he gets ready for life in the Championship, Kean is sure to lose Junior Hoilett, whose contract expires this summer, while Paul Robinson, Ayegbeni Yakubu and Steven Nzonzi are also sure to attract interest from other clubs.
Kean is hoping that he can keep the core of his squad together and said: "We are attempting to keep the majority together and build a squad that can bounce back.
"We know we have to bounce back quickly, like clubs have done. If you can keep the majority of the squad, you can probably only do that for one or two seasons."
Defender Bradley Orr will be absent after undergoing Achilles surgery and Robinson and David Dunn are doubtful with respective ankle and hamstring problems.