Bertrand keen for another first-team chance
Ryan Bertrand admitted he needs to play more regularly if he is to fulfil his true potential as he braced himself for yet another rare run-out for Chelsea in Sunday's FA Cup clash with Leicester.
Defender Bertrand is in line to be recalled for the Blues' quarter-final, with caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo considering shuffling his pack after Wednesday night's Champions League extra-time win over Napoli, which in turn created a serious fixture pile-up.
Bertrand has arguably the toughest task of any young left-back in the game, with Ashley Cole having been ahead of the 22-year-old in the Stamford Bridge pecking order ever since he broke into the first-team squad.
Even when Cole has been unavailable, former England Under-21 star Bertrand has been overlooked for Chelsea's Barclays Premier League and Champions League matches, with successive managers preferring to play right-backs Jose Bosingwa or Paulo Ferreira out of position.
Bertrand's only solace, therefore, has come in the FA Cup and Carling Cup - usually against inferior opponents - and it looks set to be the same story on Sunday.
Cole played all 120 minutes of the Napoli win and could well be rested ahead of a huge Premier League double-header against Manchester City and Tottenham on Wednesday and Saturday.
Bertrand, who deputised for Cole in both the original tie and replay against Birmingham in the FA Cup fifth round, told Chelsea's official website: "I was pleased with my performances in the Birmingham games, and hopefully I will get the opportunity against Leicester on Sunday to show what I can do again.
"I've noticed in the last couple of games, people said to me that I did well.
"But, in myself, I thought there were a couple of things I needed to brush up on.
"That all comes if I'm playing regularly. I just have to deal with the situation and try to keep sharp for when I'm called upon."
Chelsea failed to beat Birmingham at Stamford Bridge during the death throes of Andre Villas-Boas' reign but their remarkable resurgence under Di Matteo will make them massive favourites to brush Leicester aside, no matter what team they field.
Di Matteo, who could make as many as nine or 10 changes, insisted his players would not take Leicester lightly.
"We've seen how difficult it's proven so far, our path in the FA Cup," he said.
"With Birmingham, we had a replay, so we have to be aware that we need to perform at a very high level to be able to go through."
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson believes his side are capable of causing an upset.
The Foxes have already won away at Premier League opposition in this season's competition after beating Norwich in the previous round.
Pearson is no stranger to cup runs and reached the FA Cup final with Middlesbrough in 1997, losing 2-0 to Chelsea.
That Blues side contained current caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, who scored the opening goal which whizzed past Pearson's head after only 42 seconds.
Pearson said: "Due to the nature of knockout competitions, anything can happen on the day.
"We have to go into the game with a very positive mindset and make life difficult for them, so of course I believe we can move forward. Although, clearly we have to catch them on a not so good day and we have to be at our best.
"I have been very fortunate to be involved in some very successful cup runs in my career as a player.
"The key factor for us is that our players have to go out there and see it as an opportunity to play against a side who are, and have been for the last few years, one of the most successful teams in the country.
"We want to go and give a good account of ourselves and cause some problems. We will approach the game in a positive manner, but we also know we have to be wary of the talent they have. You have to respect the opposition.
"I still think it is a fabulous opportunity for the players to show what they can do and we have earned our place in the quarter-finals."
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