Veteran Australian Mark Schwarzer will hold his place in the Chelsea starting line-up in tonight’s UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid despite Petr Cech returning to training.
Schwarzer, who has played in two unsuccessful Europa League finals, has stepped up in Chelsea’s past two matches after Cech dislocated his shoulder, which initially ruled him out for the season.
The Czech Republic shot-stopper took part in Chelsea training on Tuesday ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge, sparking suggestions he could make a shock return.
However, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho confirmed Schwarzer, 41, would get the nod, with Cech still unavailable.
“Obviously his condition doesn't allow him to play but everybody is ready,” Mourinho said regarding Cech.
“That's the message we wanted to give… Even the players not in good condition want to play.
“The message from Petr and from the group was exactly that.”
Mourinho added: “Everybody was on the pitch - suspended players, ineligible players, injured players.
“It's a very important match for our group. Everybody is together, everybody wants to help, and everybody wants to play.”
Prior to this season, the vastly experienced Schwarzer had never played in the UEFA Champions League in more than 700 appearances.
Schwarzer played in losing Europa League finals with Middlesbrough in 2006 and Fulham in 2010, but a Champions League triumph would mark the ultimate way to go out for the evergreen custodian.
The Sydney-born keeper showed he still is top class with a steady and impressive display in Cech’s absence in Sunday’s massive 2-0 league win over Liverpool which revitalised his side’s title hopes.
Schwarzer became the first keeper in 28 games to keep Liverpool goalless and Mourinho praised the veteran after the game.
"He was good - very solid and very experienced," Mourinho said.
"When Liverpool started putting long balls in the area for Mark and (Gary) Cahill and (Branislav) Ivanovic, they were like fish in water. It was easy for them.
"He (Schwarzer) made not a lot but a couple of important, difficult saves. Good for him.
“He needed to play and this was a big game for him so it was good for his confidence.”comments