Chelsea omit £18m striker Romelu Lukaku from Champions League squad

Chelsea omit £18m striker Romelu Lukaku from Champions League squadChelsea have been forced to sacrifice the £18m new signing Romelu Lukaku from their Champions League squad for the group stage of the competition.

The Belgium international, bought from Anderlecht after protracted negotiations albeit always with the future in mind, was not included in a 22-man A-list squad – three short of the permitted 25-man party – submitted to and confirmed by Uefa on Friday. Chelsea have effectively been frustrated by the fact that they were limited to 17 non-homegrown players and unable to fill their eight-man allocation of homegrown personnel in their party for the competition.

With that in mind, the manager André Villas-Boas appears to have opted for the experience of Salomon Kalou up front – he also boasts Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka as central forwards – and, more significantly, the defensive cover provided by Paulo Ferreira at the back, rather than Lukaku's raw talent.

The 18-year-old made his debut as an 83rd‑minute replacement against Norwich City last weekend and is expected to be used as an impact substitute while he settles into life at Stamford Bridge.

Ferreira, who was omitted from the squad at the same stage two seasons ago for similar reasons, had to be included this time around with Chelsea denied any other cover at left-back for the first‑choice, Ashley Cole. Ryan Bertrand, the England Under-21 international, has also missed out as, of the allocation of eight homegrown players, only four can be "association trained" as opposed to "club trained".

Bertrand, signed from Gillingham in 2005 as a 15-year-old, has spent periods on loan at Bournemouth, Oldham, Norwich, Reading and Nottingham Forest and, with his Chelsea career so interrupted, therefore does not qualify as "club trained" – John Terry is the only player in the squad that falls into that category – with Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Ross Turnbull and Daniel Sturridge making up the "association trained" group.

Michael Essien, who is in rehabilitation after suffering knee ligament damage in pre-season, has not been named as he is unlikely to be available for the group stage of the competition. The A-list can be tweaked in January ahead of the knockout phase. Players such as Josh McEachran and even Nathaniel Chalobah, who featured heavily in pre-season, will be available as they are included on the B-list.

Powered by article was written by Dominic Fifield, for on Friday 2nd September 2011 19.17 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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