SUNDERLAND, May 25 – Guus Hiddink is confident Frank Lampard and Chelsea's other injury victims will be fit to contest the FA Cup final against Everton at Wembley on Saturday.England midfielder Lampard and Brazil defender Alex didn’t travel to Sunderland for Chelsea’s 2-0 victory on Sunday, while Juliano Belletti was withdrawn after just 27 minutes at the Stadium Of Light.
"Frank and Alex both missed training at the start of the week but they trained for two days before the Sunderland match and should be fine," Blues boss Hiddink said.
"Both have slight knee injuries and we rested them after the Blackburn game. We will see how Juliano reacts after taking a kick on his calf. But I think the only question mark will be Belletti."
Lampard and Alex aside, Hiddink fielded his strongest available 11 at Sunderland in what proved to be the perfect preparation for what promises to be a physical test against David Moyes’ Everton.
However, the Dutchman, who will return to coaching Russia on a full-time basis after the Cup Final, hinted that he had little choice because Chelsea don’t have enough strength in depth.
"The people who follow me here at Chelsea know that they must improve the strength in depth at the club," Hiddink said. "We have a good team here but a very small squad.
"Chelsea has to compete on at least three fronts every season and that requires a pool of more than 14 or 15 top class players. The club needs quality all over the place."
Hiddink refused to speculate on who may succeed him as manager, but he also refused to rule out a return to the Premier League in the future.
"I said a few years ago that I would do something different in football and not return to the spotlight of club football," he added.
"I couldn’t keep that promise so I won’t promise never to return to England. I will miss the Premier League because it’s a very attractive competition. I have enjoyed almost every minute of my time at Chelsea – it’s a great club and a great organisation."
Central to Chelsea’s success at Wembley is the France international forward Nicolas Anelka who, it would appear, has finally found a home for life. Or at least for the near future.
Anelka secured the Premier League’s Golden Boot with the first of Chelsea’s three goals against Sunderland and his manager added: "It was very enjoyable to see Nicolas win that prize.
"First of all we travelled to Sunderland for the win but secondly we were keen to help him win the Golden Boot. It’s good for him and it’s good for everyone at the club.
"We actually talked about it at half-time because Nicolas looked too eager for it to happen. In the end it was a classy goal."
If Hiddink still has the opportunity to celebrate his time with Chelsea with a trophy then securing Sunderland’s top flight status was no cause for celebration for the club’s outgoing manager, Ricky Sbragia.
The Scot chose not to take up an extension to his contract and instead stepped down, clearing the way for a new boss – possibily Croatia’s national team manager, Slaven Bilic, to join the Black Cats in the close-season.
"I will do everything I can to get a big name for the Sunderland fans," said chairman Niall Quinn. "This club needs a big name and someone who can change the mentality in the dressing room."