José Mourinho aims to make the most of attacking riches at Chelsea

Strikers' practice at Cobham must be a strange experience at present.

Three players in José Mourinho's group have enjoyed prolific seasons in the Premier League with different clubs and all are vying for just one spot in the Chelsea team.

Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba are expected to be joined by another forward before the transfer window closes. Whether they will all still be at the club by then is debatable but one issue appears prominent: a hierarchy is yet to be decided.

"Samuel Eto'o or Wayne Rooney, I'm not scared, let them come," said Lukaku when asked about potential incomings to Stamford Bridge over the next nine days. "I never run away from the competition and it's something that I've liked from the day I started football. It's always good to have someone who can do the same thing as you because then you have to improve."

Mourinho has claimed that Chelsea will not make a third bid for Rooney before they play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday, while the financial situation at Anzhi Makhachkala means Eto'o could arrive at a discount price and be reunited with the manager with whom he won the Champions League at Internazionale three years ago.

Mourinho insists he has a "plan B and plan C" should his pursuit of Rooney collapse, yet it may take some time before any attacking masterplan bears fruit.

Eto'o was utilised by Mourinho on the right flank of a three-strong forward line during his spell with Inter, while Rooney would also be capable of playing deeper or wider than the central striker's role. Should either secure a move to Chelsea it would certainly add competition to an area of the side where options are already aplenty.

Ba, who scored seven league goals in 12 appearances during his short spell at West Ham before going on to enjoy success with Newcastle, appears the most likely to move on. Fulham on loan could be a possibility.

The Senegalese, who was signed last January, started the 2-1 home victory against Aston Villa on Wednesday but had little impact and was withdrawn after 65 minutes. It was not, though, due to a lack of effort and Ba's strength and endeavour, as well as his fine goalscoring record in the Premier League, may convince Mourinho that he is worthy of a place in the squad, despite the fact that he has already been linked with a move to Roma, Málaga and a return to Upton Park.

Torres started the first game of the season against Hull City last Sunday, which Chelsea won 2-0, and may hold the strongest stake on a first-team place. The Spaniard may never return to being the force of old yet his style differs from his team-mates and he scored 23 goals for Chelsea last season, the majority arriving in cup competitions.

Then there is Lukaku, the 20-year-old built like a Spartan warrior and nicknamed the Tank. The Belgian, who insists that he does not simply want to be known as the next Didier Drogba, scored 17 league goals while on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season and admits that he has always dreamed of occupying the Chelsea No9 shirt.

"It's something that I'd like very much, but I'm my own player and I have time in front of me," Lukaku said. "I have to work as hard as I can and see what happens.

"I like the competition here at Chelsea and quality of players that we have is very good because everyone is improving and every day when you come into training you know that you have to do your very best to be in the team. That's something that I like and if you work hard you will play."

Asked if it was difficult in training alongside Ba and Torres, being team-mates but rivals in equal measure, he added: "No, I'm a team player, as long as the team wins that's all right. Sometimes you want to play more but the manager makes the choices and as a player you have to respect the choices.

"I have never been a player who wanted conflict with the coach and never will be a player that will disrupt the team. I want the team to win and if I'm in the team it's OK."

Competition and strength in depth are certainly key ingredients in any title-winning side. On the value of an extra forward, Lukaku said: "If he can improve the squad, why not? Every player wants to play and every team wants to be the best that there is, so if the player can improve us, why not?"

One wonders if those sentiments are genuinely felt by all strikers. Either way, Mourinho and Chelsea boast a wealth of attacking talent. The question is, can they utilise it to maximum effect?

Powered by article was written by James Riach, for The Guardian on Thursday 22nd August 2013 23.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Rik Sharma/@rbsfeatures

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch