Blues boss hails depth of squad

Ancelotti has put his faith in Sturridge, centre, who rewarded his manager with two goals on Sunday. (GETTY IMAGES)

Carlo Ancelotti remains convinced his Chelsea side can overcome the loss of their African Nations Cup stars after the holders started the New Year with a crushing 5-0 FA Cup home win against Watford on Sunday.

Ancelotti's Premier League leaders crushed their Championship opponents to earn a fourth round tie away to Preston North End, another second-tier English side.

The win was secured by two goals from Daniel Sturridge – his first for the club – strikes from Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda and John Eustace's own-goal.

The performance of Sturridge particularly pleased Ancelotti, who asked the 20-year-old to lead the attack in the absence of Didier Drogba, on African Nations duty in Angola with the Ivory Coast, and injured forward Nicolas Anelka.

"It was a good performance and Sturridge played very well," said Ancelotti. "Without Drogba, it was important to have him in good condition. He scored two goals and that's important for a striker: to score.

"But he deserved that. He played very well for the whole match and 'stayed' well. It was important for him," he added. "It'll improve his confidence. He has a lot of potential and great quality, and he can show that on the pitch in January."

Anelka will be fit for Chelsea's weekend trip to Hull City and Ancelotti is already thinking about fielding two forwards in the absence of Drogba and compatriot Salomon Kalou.

"[Anelka] will be ready for Saturday," confirmed Ancelotti. "He's been training with the team and will do so again this week. He and Sturridge can play together."

The manager also insisted he saw enough signs to suggest Chelsea can cope with the temporary loss of Ghana's Michael Essien and Nigeria's John Obi Mikel to the African tournament.

"We can do a good January; good performances without the African players," said Ancelotti. "I had good answers about other players.

"Juliano Belletti played very well in central midfield. I think we can put in good performances without the other African players."

Meanwhile, French winger Malouda has revealed he sought talks with Ancelotti after being left out of the team for a number of important games this season.

 

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