Benitez to hold on to Moses and Mikel
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez wants to keep John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses for cup matches in January before releasing them for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Blues start their defence of the FA Cup against Southampton on January 5, and then play Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi-final at home four days later.
Mikel and Moses have been integral players since Benitez took over as interim manager at Stamford Bridge, and have been granted permission to stay in London until after the New Year.
However, with Chelsea facing a chaotic fixture list, Benitez is now negotiating to keep the two for as long as possible, although he admits it is unlikely he can keep them until the League match against Stoke on January 12.
“The tournament starts on the 19th, so they will go one or two weeks before,” Benitez said.
“Maybe we can manage to keep them a little bit longer. We will talk with them. They know sometimes the players do not need to go early. But at least one week before the 19th, they have to be there.”
The Super Eagles squad was due to report for a pre-tournament training camp in Portugal on Thursday. Their first match in South Africa is against Burkina Faso on January 21.
The Afcon final is on February 10, four days before Chelsea travel to Sparta Prague in the Europa League.