Guus Hiddink has warned his Chelsea players they will have to handle a hostile atmosphere when they visit Newcastle on Saturday for the first match of Alan Shearer’s reign.
Hiddink has no doubt that Shearer – who has been appointed Newcastle boss until the end of the season – will instill some passion into a squad that has underperformed over the last couple of months.
“Everyone knows their situation,” the Dutchman said. “There will be a reaction from the team and the crowd and we can expect a tight game and a lot of fighting spirit from our opponents tomorrow.”
“The instant input and change in the dressing room will give their players a lot of energy and that is an extra aspect of the game we have to deal with tomorrow.”
Chelsea will be without Didier Drogba, who suffered an ankle injury in training, and will not be risked with Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Liverpool on the horizon.
Right-back Jose Bosingwa, who injured his hamstring on international duty with Portugal, is also set to miss the trip norht.
“Bosingwa got a hamstring injury and will not be available for tomorrow,” said Hiddink. “We will see what he can do up to Wednesday.
“Drogba has a problem. We did an exercise where he got injured and he will not be in the squad tomorrow.
“He has a problem in the ankle. We did some shooting practice and he hit the ground with his foot and it jarred in the ankle. But Nicolas Anelka is fit and will be in the squad.”
Chelsea’s hopes of winning the title suffered a setback when they were defeated by Tottenham two weeks ago, on the day Fulham handed leaders Manchester United a second successive defeat.
But Hiddink insists they will continue to fight for the title as long as it is mathematically possible to win it.
“As long as we have the chance to go on, we will fight for that,” said Hiddink. “We are still going for the title. Tottenham was a lost opportunity for us but we will continue to fight for the title while we can.”