Mancienne tipped for special Messi mission

Chelsea starlet Michael Mancienne is set to be named as the man to stop Lionel Messi when the Blues meet Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals next week.

The 21-year-old, who joined the West London outfit as a trainee in 2005, only made his first-team debut for the club in February in an FA Cup tie at Watford, having previously made more than 50 Championship appearances on loan for both QPR and Wolves.

However, following Guus Hiddink's appointment as temporary coach at Stamford Bridge, the highly-rated defender has featured against Juventus in the Champions League and both Wigan and Portsmouth in the Premier League.

And with left-back Ashley Cole suspended for the first-leg tie at the Nou Camp and Paulo Ferreira injured, Mancienne is being tipped to step into the former Arsenal man's shoes to combat the threat of 'The Flea'.

The England U21 international, who usually plays at either centre or right-back, featured on the left side of defence for the Blues' reserves in a 2-2 draw with West Brom on Monday night with Hiddink in attendance. 

"It was a new one on me, I've never played there before. The manager came to watch and I was asked to have a go," said Mancienne.

"The manager is keeping his options open. I would love the challenge of facing Messi."

It is believed the Dutchman is considering deploying a right-footed defender at left-back against the Catalan giants in order to negate Messi, who regularly cuts inside from the right-flank onto his lethal left foot.

“We have got Lionel Messi to deal with so Guus wants to have a look at everybody who he feels could cope with the situation," Chelsea assistant Ray Wilkins told Chelsea TV.

“With Michael being right sided, he will always cut inside when the ball comes to him. It will narrow us up a touch but if Michael is chosen he won't let anyone down at all.”

NEWS: Mancienne: Terry an inspiration
TALENTSPOTTER: Michael Mancienne profile

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