BY PAUL LAGAN
Danny Drinkwater – a forgotten man at Stamford Bridge – is heading out on loan this month to Turkey.
The former Leicester City Premier League title-winner, who joined the Blues from the Foxes in 2017 for £35million will see out the season playing for Kasimpasa in Istanbul.
Drinkwater, 30, has a contract at SW6 which ends in July 2022 and he’s picking up a weekly wage of £120,000.
It’s believed that Chelsea will pay part of his wages to get him out the door. A calf problem has curtailed his starts at the Bridge but he earned a FA Cup final winners medal despite not featuring in the final against Manchester United – again due to injury.
He played just 12 times in total, falling out of favour completely under Mauricio Sarri. He went out on loan before returning to the Bridge this season.
His last outing in a Blues shirt was for the U23 last month in a 3-2 win over Spurs. He was sent off for violent play.
Chelsea can put their dreadful league form behind them – for a game at least – as they take on Morecambe in the FA Cup third round at the Bridge on Sunday.
Under-fire boss Frank Lampard will ring the changes and give much-needed rest to the likes of N’Golo Kante, Edouard Mendy, Tiago Silva, Kurt Zouma and Ben Chilwell. A couple of those will be on the bench, just in case the game is not panning out with the expected convincing win.
Kepa, Andreas Christensen, Toni Rudiger and Emerson will deputise.
Lampard will start Callum Hudson-Odoi on the wing with Hakim Ziyech on the other flank. He will hope to give crucial minutes to Kai Havertz. Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Billy Gilmour will be charged with supplying the ball to Timo Werner, who will retain his place as Lampard seeks to bolster the goal-shy striker’s confidence.
One of Oliver Giroud and Tammy Abraham will complete the starting line-up.
Youngster Tino Anjorin could feature from the bench.
Lampard will be wary of the tie and the implications should it go the same way as when Chelsea faced Bradford City in the competition in Jose Mourinho’s second spell as boss. The Bantams beat the Blues 4-2 in the fourth round in 2015.
Gilmour has his eyes set on the Euros in the summer for Scotland, and the national boss Steve Clarke is fully aware of the youngster’s ability.
Clarke, a Chelsea legend, said: “Without going overboard on one player, I don’t like to do that, Gilmour is a good player.
“There is no doubt about it. He is very highly thought of at Chelsea, he’s from the same neck of the woods as me, so being an Ayrshire boy he must have a great character.
“He needs to play more games, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Even the people at Chelsea know he’s got to play a few more games than he has at this moment in time. He is one for the future, absolutely.”
Manchester City striker Ilkay Gundogan has come out in defence of fellow countrymen Werner and Havertz, who are struggling to adapt to their debut season in the Premier league.
Gundogan said: “Chelsea have two new German players who have tried to adapt as well as possible.
“It’s not easy to adapt quickly to the Premier League when you come from a different country and now with the situation going on, I think it’s harder.
“Like every year Chelsea have a great squad with incredible players, they are a great team, and they have an ambitious manager so I feel like they will challenge us.”
Chelsea Women return to WSL action on Sunday as they prepare for a hectic six matches in January.
Emma Hayes’ outfit travel to Reading (2pm).
Chelsea are unbeaten in 30 league matches and are third in the league, six points behind Manchester United but with two games in hand.
They face the league leaders at home the following Sunday but not before travelling to Manchester City for a quarter-final tie in the Conti Cup on Wednesday.
Hayes needs to decide whether to put new Swedish goalkeeper Zecira Musovic on the bench on Sunday or persist with stand-in stopper Carly Telford, who is expected to leave the Blues at the end of the season when her contract expires.
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