Grant hoping for Mikel boost

Image: Mikel: Could play against Everton

Avram Grant expects John Obi Mikel to be available for Chelsea's Carling Cup semi-final against Everton on Tuesday.

Chelsea boss expects Nigerian to play

Avram Grant expects Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel to be available for the first-leg of Chelsea's Carling Cup semi-final against Everton on Tuesday. Mikel will soon be jetting off to the African Cup of Nations, along with Michael Essien of Ghana and Ivory Coast duo Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou. However, Grant hopes Mikel will be able to delay his trip, after the Nigerian Football Association gave Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Joseph Yobo permission to stay with Everton for the clash against Chelsea. Grant said: "If the Nigerian players play for Everton, they will for us. It will not be one club and not the other. "I don't think Drogba will be available for us - I think he will go to his national team." Chelsea have stayed in touch with the Premier League leaders over the festive period, despite losing several players to injury or suspension.

Proud

They have also advanced to the fourth round of the FA Cup and Grant is delighted with how his players have coped. "I am very proud of what we achieved over the busy Christmas period - taking 10 points from 12," he said. "It shows the strength of squad we have because many teams would have failed to perform without so many important players. "But we continued to fight until the end of every game and that has made me proud of the staff and the players. "I have been pleased with the way Andriy Shevchenko and Salomon Kalou have played since we lost Didier to injury. "Both of them have shown how to score vital goals and lead this team with desire and quality."

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