Ancelotti tells Zhirkov to prove himself
Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has told unsettled Yury Zhirkov that he will not be allowed to quit Stamford Bridge.
The Russia international defender will make his first start for Chelsea this season against MSK Zilina in the UEFA Champions League tonight after claiming he is set to consider his future in the January transfer window.
Zhirkov, signed for £18.2 million from CSKA Moscow last year, was hampered by knee problems during his first season at the club.
The defender has struggled to break into Ancelotti's team this season with England left-back Ashley Cole and France winger Florent Malouda in sparkling form.
But while Zhirkov has already made his frustration clear, Ancelotti was quick to put an end to any further speculation by speaking out on the issue for the first time.
"I don't need to speak with him about the future," said Ancelotti.
"That is because his future is here with Chelsea. He is a good player. He knows in this club, in the top teams, there is a lot of competition to play and for this reason, he has to improve.
"But I think that he will have the possibility to play a lot of games this year, because we are involved in a lot of competitions. We need to have all the players fit and ready to play."
But the Italian has made a number of changes from the side that beat West Ham 3-1 on Saturday.
Branislav Ivanovic moves to right-back with Paul Ferreira dropping to the bench to accommodate Alex alongside Terry in defence.
Daniel Sturridge replaces the suspended Didier Drogba in attack while Yossi Benayoun makes his first start in midfield alongside Michael Essien and John Mikel Obi.
"John has no problem to play tomorrow," confirmed Ancelotti. "He is fit and trained yesterday with no problem. So for this reason he is ready to play tomorrow."
Zilina are expected to be the group's outsiders but they beat Sparta Prague to reach the group stages and Ancelotti is not taking their threat lightly.
"Zilina is a good team. I saw the game against Sparta Prague. They played well both games. They have ability up front, so we have to pay attention to them," he added.
"We are here to win. We have to stay focused. Our aim is to win this group but it will not be easy. For them it is an important game and we have to pay attention to them."
Zilina captain Robert Jez admitted the match could be the highest point in the career of some of his team-mates, but maintained they would not be overawed.
"We all very much looking forward to what could be the hardest game of our career," the Slovakia international said.
"I hope the match plays out in a way that we are all satisfied with our performance and that afterwards we can say they we did everything we could for a successful outcome.
"It's a great achievement for me, for the other players and for the club of Zilina to be in the Champions League.
"But I don't think we have yet reached the maximum achievement. We have reached the best 32 clubs in Europe and of course now we want to prove our quality in the six matches."
Jez also refused to pinpoint a single player that he feared ahead of the match, adding: "I would not like to mention a specific name because if you look at the Chelsea team there is a great player everywhere."