- Champions League
Cole will get a new Chelsea contract - Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Ashley Cole will play in Chelsea's match against Steaua Bucharest after a seven-game absence, and that he has no concerns over the left-back's future - but it is up to the England international to reclaim his place.
The Chelsea manager has preferred Cesar Azpilicueta on the left side of the defence of late, and has confirmed himself a huge admirer of the Spaniard, but still spoke glowingly of Cole's attitude - and stated he is highly likely to be given a new contract.
"I know him well, it's easy to feel that he's not happy, not comfortable with the situation but the way he trains, the way he behaves, super professional. As always, fantastic trainer, fantastic professional. When he is on the bench behind me, I can feel that he's there to win, even if he's not on the pitch, fantastic guy, full of respect for the young players, and yes he starts tomorrow," Mourinho said.
"I think sometimes even if you are not playing every game, and you are not first choice player like he was always, sometimes it means you are not well, you are not in well conditions, you are not deserving [of] a new contract, I feel he's fine, and I feel tomorrow he's going to show that is fine, so I think naturally with the evolution of the season, he will play matches.
"Can he recover or not 100% [for] his position? I don't know but he will always play and he will always be a good player so I think naturally he will get his contract, because he's a brilliant player for us."
Mourinho meanwhile claims his Chelsea team are not favourites to win this season's Champions League. The Portuguese says the likes of Bayern Munich - in particular - and the two Spanish giants of Barcelona and Real Madrid remain too far ahead, but that his side are one of a group of clubs that can disrupt them.
"I think our chances this season, which is my first season, are not compatible with the chances other clubs have," Mourinho said. "I think other clubs have complete different stabilities, squads, evolution of the team to be considered the favourites to win the competition. We've reached the last 16, if you reach the quarter-final, which is the next step, I used to say every team in the quarter-final has a chance to win it, but in my analysis, I think we are not considered one of the favourites to win the competition.
"My opinion? Bayern... [they are] European champions, are a top club, same players, new manager, same team, unbelievable stability. Barcelona, Real Madrid and these three teams are clearly in terms of potential and responsibilities in front, but I could say other teams are very strong, and as I was saying, when one of these teams arrive in the last eight, anything can happen.
"These teams are obviously [Manchester] City, [Manchester] United, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea... there is a group of teams arriving there, but we are still in the first phase and the last 16 we will find some difficult processes, because some important teams will finish second. You can have City, [Borussia] Dortmund, Juventus, if they don't lose today, you can have teams finish second that they can beat any one of the first, so interesting competition as always."
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.