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Guus Hiddink hopes to have full complement of defenders available for Crystal Palace clash

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Sky Sports' headline says "expects" but the actual text only goes so far as "hopes" for Gary Cahill's availability this Sunday against Crystal Palace.  The Chelsea center back missed Monday's match after picking up a late "foot injury", which was later revealed to be an ankle issue.

"Gary Cahill didn't train on Wednesday, which means he has a little problem. He has an ankle injury - some ligaments are a bit tight - but we have several days to go, so I'm not negative about him."

-Guus Hiddink; source: Sky

That was Hiddink's assessment in yesterday's press conference.  It's unclear whether Sky actually have any further news or understandings on the situation or are just running with that assessment.

Normally, Cahill's knock would not be a cause for concern.  Mourinho may not have done many things right as far as youth development goes, but he certainly had taken young Kurt Zouma under his wings, given him plenty of big responsibilities and opportunities to make an impact, and the young man had taken to those challenges with mostly good success.  Last season Zouma was often used a (midfield) destroyer and/or given specific marking tasks that he passed with flying colors.  The likes of Christian Eriksen, Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane all lived in his pocket at times.  This season, the big kid from Lyon, for better or worse, became one of the first names on the team sheet, usually at center back, but sometimes even at right back.

Hiddink's only been in charge for a couple games, but his preference for a partnership of Terry and Cahill in his first match could be seen as indication of what he wants to do going forward.  Zouma did start against United with Cahill injured, and did produce one breathtaking highlight, but it would not be surprising if Guus The Fixer preferred the steady consistency of the veteran pairing.  Zouma may be amazing at times and he has a tremendous future ahead of him, but right now, he has plenty of room for improvement still.

With Hiddink showing absolutely zero inclination to use youth so far, Zouma could very well become collateral damage to our rash midseason managerial change.

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