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Mata, Cech fit for Newcastle trip

Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has confirmed Juan Mata and Petr Cech will both be available for their trip to Newcastle.

Mata suffered an ankle injury during the Blues’ 2-2 mid-week draw with Reading, while Cech has missed the past two games with a groin problem.

“Mata was training today and so was Petr Cech, and both are available for selection,” the former Liverpool boss told reporters.

“David Luiz, though, is still injured, along with Oriol Romeu.”

Benitez also offered encouragement to the Magpies, suggesting they can turn their disappointing campaign around – but he hopes Alan Pardew’s men continue to struggle for at least one more matchday.

He said: “Last season they had a great campaign, and I was slightly surprised that they haven’t been playing at the same level.

“But you can see they still have good players, and I think they will do well, but hopefully after this game.

“They did well last Tuesday against Aston Villa, so they will be happy with the performance and the result. After this game, if they can win a few games in a row I’m sure they will be fine.”

Saturday’s game sees the first time Demba Ba will return to Newcastle since leaving the Magpies this January and Benitez believes the Senegal striker will be in the right frame of mind to produce an effective performance.

Benitez added: “I think he’s confident he can do well if he plays. He’s been training well, he’s a professional and he knows that some fans might not be happy, but others will understand the situation, so he’s ready to play.”

On his side’s recent form – they have won three of their past nine in all competitions – Benitez said there was more to their game than just blunt statistics.

“I think if you analyse the games we couldn’t (didn’t) win, we could win all of them,” the Spanish boss said.

“So the team is doing quite well with the circumstances that we have, with some player not here or injuries. I think that the performance of the team has been good.”

Sat 2 Feb, 2013
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