Chelsea's Michael Mancienne ready to mark Lionel Messi
21 April 2009 08:59
Ashley Cole, Chelsea's regular left-back, is suspended for the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. And with no natural replacement, Hiddink has been forced to consider his options.
Mancienne filled the role for the reserves against West Brom, as Hiddink looked on. And the England Under-21 international said: 'I would love the challenge of facing Messi. The manager came to watch and I was asked to have a go. The manager is keeping his options open.'
'It was a new one on me, I've never really played there before," Mancienne told Chelsea TV.
"They told me a couple of days ago I would have a go at left back and I did ask Ashley a few questions about it. It felt all right.'
Ricardo Carvalho, who has lost his starting place in the centre of defence to Alex, was another option for Hiddink, but the Portuguese suffered an injury against West Brom.
Juliano Belletti is another, more experienced, option for Hiddink, although Mancienne's pace and agility may give him the edge.
Whoever plays against Messi, he will face an unenviable task against the world's most devastating attacker on current form.
The Argentine scored the only goal against Getafe at the weekend to keep Barca six points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, with Pep Guardiola's side having won their last six games without conceding a goal.
Guardiola said: "To see how the team are playing gives me calm for the month and half of the season that remains.
"With their performance, the players showed that they want to lift a trophy. You can see that they have the desire to be champions.
"When a team of this level has this will, it's hard to stop them. I'm very proud of my players".