Good afternoon folks and welcome to our coverage of Guus Hiddink's Chelsea press conference.
The interim Blues manager is due to arrive at Cobham at 1.15pm to speak to the media.
He will be updating us with the latest team news and gossip from the Chelsea camp ahead of this weekend's game with Manchester City.
There is a bit of added spice to this one as Kevin De Bruyne returns to west London having been sold to Wolfsburg in 2014 before sealing a mega-money move to City.
Stay tuned for all the latest from Hiddink ahead of Saturday evening's fixture as the Blues look to bounce back from their first defeat under the Dutchman at Swansea.
That's all from the Chelsea coach
The press conference has ended, and Chelsea will start to eye up tomorrow’s tough clash against City.
Guus Hiddink, towards the end of his second spell with the Blues, will be eager to pick up as many wins as possible despite a lack of trophies on offer.
And here are some highlights from the briefing.
- Guus wants to be fair to his playing staff as the season comes to a close
- Diego Costa returns for Chelsea but John Terry remains unavailable
- Chelsea are wary of Kevin de Bruyne threat
- Conte can always ask Hiddink for advice
Hiddink likes to be 'fair' to his players
In recent weeks, the former Netherlands and Australia boss has played Loic Remy, Alexandre Pato, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jake Clarke-Salter.
With the latter two emerging from Chelsea’s academy, and looking to stake a claim, the interim boss has been asked why he has not been playing the younger players more than those whose futures at the club are less certain.
Hiddink said: “We have played although he is a little bit touched by injury now, Kenedy, Loftus-Cheek is starting more games. It’s good to go on that strategy or path.
“He is also on loan we know, and I like to be fair to everyone. We judge also on training. He deserves to start one game at least to give him a chance to show what he is able to do in games as well.”
Hiddink anticipates thrilling 2016/17 Premier League
Looking forward to next season, and the Chelsea coach was asked about how the new broadcasting deal could change the Premier League landscape.
Leicester currently lead the league this season, but that is not enough for Hiddink.
He added: “Next year, the league will be more competitive. It’s very nice for everyone, except if you are used to being at the top for many years.
“For football generally it is good that with all respect the smaller clubs now have the possibility to sign good players.
“They have done that already this year, and more so next year.
“As a consequence, teams that used to compete for the title or Champions League will be chased by other teams.”
'Empty' Guus hopes players lift for end of season
The Blues boss has elaborated on his team, and the effect a trophyless season can have on the playing staff.
And he reiterated the importance of the players playing for themselves, and a chance of pushing for a late European Championships spot.
He said: “You can mourn a few days, you can be sad, whatever.
“Now, for the rest of the season it is important to show what they can do - for themselves, as an obligation for the club, and also beneficial for Chelsea.
“And there is a side obligation of playing in the summer at the Euros.”
Hiddink happy to offer Conte advice
The Blues boss will be leaving the club at the end of the season as he makes way for Italy manager Antonio Conte to take charge.
Hiddink has successfully propelled Chelsea away from the relegation zone and to 10th in the league.
And the Dutchman has offered his consultancy services once Conte takes the reins.
He said: “To get the force back in the club is the aim.
“It’s the end of the season, analysis will be made, and recharge with fresh energy.
“At the end, If I am asked, I am available for this club, no matter who knocks on the door.
“One can make analysis, but It is not for me to do it in front of the press.”
Trophyless season leaves Guus feeling hollow
Chelsea are lingering in mid-table as the season enters the final few matches.
The Blues have only lost once under Guus Hiddink since he took charge in December, but they have drawn plenty of games in that streak.
And despite his best efforts to recover from the horrific start made under Jose Mourinho, Hiddink admits a season with nothing left to play for leaves him feeling empty.
The Dutch coach added: “After the defeats suffered in the FA Cup and Champions League, then there’s a little bit of emptiness. You are empty - there is no silverware to go for.
“We knew it would be a difficult season, and we managed to get away from the relegation zone, but at the end you hope to get silverware as the next step.
“You feel, hey, nothing is left at stake.
“But you have to regather. You have seen a bit of reaction going into injuries, but you can let that happen one or two days then we get you back on the team.
“That’s what is going on now - the team is back, they must show what they are capable of.”
Resilient Costa bounced back well from suspension
The Spanish forward will return for Chelsea’s clash with Manchester City on Saturday.
Costa received a three-match ban for an incident with Gareth Barry in their FA Cup tie with Everton, and has been unable to play since.
But Costa has worked hard to get back into the first team.
He said: “There can be a tendency to take a break, but he didn’t.
“He worked very hard - especially when we were on the road. He worked at Cobham with the staff.
“He’s very ambitious, and very eager to play.”
Guus has tried to help Eden Hazard
Last season’s Premier League player of the year Eden Hazard has been out of sorts since the start of the season.
His failure this season has been seen as symptomatic of Chelsea’s faltering start under Jose Mourinho.
And Hiddink has admitted that he spoke to Hazard to try and boost morale.
He added: “It’s a long period of absence. It was alarming. I’ve told him hey, you must now start performing. It’s difficult when one has been player of the year, and then had this drastic fall of form.
“Also due to injuries, but it is a complex situation, going into injury and not in top form - that must be alarming.
“It has gone through my head - what can I do to help get him back on track?
“I think he fell too much into injuries and had difficulties to come back.”
Kevin de Bruyne could hurt Chelsea
Kevin De Bruyne is set to return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since he left under Jose Mourinho in January 2014.
The 24-year-old has notched up six goals and nine assists in the Premier League this season in just 18 games after moving to the Etihad for £55 million from Wolfsburg last summer.
De Bruyne’s form is almost the polar opposite to his international team-mate Eden Hazard, with last season’s PFA Player of the Year yet to score a Premier League goal this season.
Hiddink said: “I respect the way they [Romelu Lukaku and de Bruyne] play. They are quality players though.
“It would not be nice to neglect that. I see those players with huge quality. It is good that they have take their career as they have done so far.”
England should support European contenders
Manchester City beat PSG in mid-week to qualify for the club’s first ever Champions League semi-final and have been drawn against Real Madrid.
Chelsea were knocked out the tournament over two legs by PSG in the round of 16.
Hiddink said: “There are still some days before they play Real Madrid. I think the team is getting into a certain flow of success and results. We had that experience here in previous times and recently. It’s encouraging.
“For us, one reason more to expect tough opposition.”
John Terry ruled out of City clash
Diego Costa returns from suspension for the Manchester City clash and will be expected to feature in Chelsea’s starting XI.
Gary Cahill and Nemanja Matic will be available for the Blues, while Kenedy has picked up a slight knock.
Hiddink said: “Yeah, of course. We had a good week and I’m especially happy that some injured players came in, they will be on board. Not everyone, Terry will not be in. Hazard is on the edge but not yet. Remy will be out, the squad is complete after that.
“After first defeat, I don’t like it, but I do like that some youngsters have played that game and it is also good to see if they were able to.
“It was not about me, but about winning.
“What I asked of them was to go into tomorrow’s game, and the rest of the matches, with a desire to get a good streak.
“Liverpool, we have seen, were on the edge of being out and luckily got it in the last second. For them, and for English football, it is good to have English teams and support them in Europe when we are not in Europe.
“It’s good to have everyone on board.”
Guus Hiddink is ready to go
The Dutch coach has entered the Cobham press room and we are ready to start.
Team news, and all Chelsea updates ahead of the Blues’ clash with Manchester City will be with you shortly.
Butland tipped for the Bridge
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois continues to be linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge and a new candidate has emerged as his potential replacement.
Courtois has been touted as a potential summer acquisition for Real Madrid while backup keeper Asmir Begovic is unlikely to want to remain on the bench should the Belgian go.
Southampton’s Fraser Forster was previously named as being on Chelsea’s transfer radar but Stoke City’s Jack Butland is now being suggested as a potential recruit.
Butland famously snubbed a move to Chelsea in order to join the Potters when he left Birmingham City in January 2013.
Out to impress Conte
Chelsea have nothing left to play for in the Premier League but Oscar insists the Blues will be going all out in their remaining games in an attempt to impress Antonio Conte.
Conte has signed a three-year deal with the west Londoners to become the club’s next manager after his Italy contract expires in the summer.
Guus Hiddink remains in charge in the interim period and suffered his first league defeat since returning to the club on Saturday as Swansea ran out 1-0 winners in Wales.
Conte will officially take over the reins following the conclusion of Euro 2016 in France but is already making preparations for next term and has met with the players.
“I try to play my best for Chelsea but it’s not just me, the whole team will try to win games to impress the new coach ahead of next season,” Oscar said.
“We have six games left this season. We played well against Swansea but we didn’t win and now we have to focus on the next match because it’s very important for us.
“It will be a good game against Manchester City.”
Cut-price deal for Lukaku?
The complex deal which took Romelu Lukaku to Everton could reportedly help Chelsea re-sign the striker at a reduced rate.
Lukaku joined Everton in a deal worth around £28million in July 2014 following a successful loan stint at Goodison Park.
He had grown tired of a lack of first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge despite being hailed as the next Didier Drogba after his capture from Antwerp.
However, his father, Roger, has revealed that there is interest from Man United, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus and the Blues ahead of this summer.
Chelsea hold an ace in the pack as the Daily Mail claims the deal that the club agreed with the Toffees two years ago includes several performance-related bonuses.
Everton are still in contention to win the FA Cup and lifting that trophy would be just one of a number of bonuses Lukaku could activate.
Chelsea could use any bonus money owed to them by the Toffees to help negotiate a reduced asking price for the powerful Premier League goalscorer.
Conte will be looking for more firepower in the summer with Radamel Falcao, Alexandre Pato and Loic Remy all expected to leave west London.
Terry picks out Chelsea replacement
Captain John Terry reckons Jake Clarke-Salter will be the man to take his place in the Chelsea team.
The 35-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and expects to leave in the summer after being told he will not be offered fresh terms.
Chelsea’s academy prospects have struggled to break into the first-team squad in recent years as Roman Abramovich’s spending power has negated the need for young blood.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is starting to make inroads but Terry remains the last player to make the jump and cement a regular spot in the Blues side.
Clarke-Salter signed for the Blues at U9s-level and has been a part of the club’s academy ever since, making his professional debut at Aston Villa last month.
Chelsea skipper Terry has been impressed with the 18 year-old’s progression and can see a route into the first-team opening up for the highly-rated defender.
Terry said: “Jake has a great attitude. I remember watching him a couple of years ago being in control of the game and a really vocal player. He reminds me a bit of myself.
“[Jake] is doing great and I hope he goes on to take my position and get in the first team. It was great for him to make his debut.
“I was disappointed I wasn’t there to support him because I missed the game [through injury]. But watching it from home, I was delighted.”
Nothing to prove for De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne insists he has nothing to prove when he returns to Chelsea with Manchester City on Saturday.
The Blues sold the Belgian winger to Wolfsburg for £18million in 2014 but he returned to England a year later after starring for the Germans.
Man City splashed out three times that amount to take De Bruyne to the Etihad Stadium and he has proven his worth to Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
De Bruyne struggled to make an impression on former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and claimed the pair only spoke twice during his time at the club.
“I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone because there’s nothing really to say. It’s not a case of I played a lot and played badly - I just didn’t play.
“It is it what it is and I’m just going there to try and help City win the game which is really important for us.
“If we want to put pressure on the teams around us, it’s obviously better to take three points so maybe that will work in our favour because there’s no pressure on Chelsea to win now.”
Kompany could return for City
Manuel Pellegrini hopes to have Vincent Kompany back for this weekend’s trip to Chelsea - but will not rush the Manchester City captain back from his latest calf injury.
The influential defender was reduced to a watching brief on Tuesday as the Etihad Stadium witnessed one of the most memorable European nights in the club’s history.
Kevin De Bruyne’s classy finish ensured a 1-0 second-leg win, and a 3-2 aggregate victory, against Paris St Germain which propelled City into the Champions League semi-finals for the very first time.
It was a match Kompany was not risked for after sustaining the latest in a long line of calf-related problems in the last-16 clash with Dynamo Kiev.
However, the 30-year-old is back in training and Pellegrini hopes to have him available for the Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, if not next Tuesday’s trip to embattled Newcastle.
Good afternoon all and welcome to today’s LIVE coverage of Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea vs Manchester City press conference.
The interim boss is due to sit down at 1.15pm with the media to discuss tomorrow’s visit of Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Chelsea’s squad will be looking to impress in the final stages of the Premier League season ahead of the arrival of Antonio Conte.
But will face a tough test against a City side who look to be back to their best and will be on a high after qualifying for their first Champions League semi-final in the club’s history.
Hopefully Hiddink should have plenty to say today and we’ll have all the action as it happens here.