LONDON (AFP) - As Jose Mourinho surveys what's left of his injury-ravaged squad, he could be forgiven for fearing Chelsea's title challenge is in trouble before it has even started.
Losing to Manchester United in Sunday's Community Shield is the least of Mourinho's worries after John Terry, Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele joined an already lengthy injury list.
Michael Ballack and Wayne Bridge are carrying injuries from last term that will keep them out for several weeks, while Andriy Shevchenko, Arjen Robben, Salomon Kalou and Paulo Ferreira have missed chunks of the pre-season.
Drogba and Makelele are far from certain to be available for the Premiership opener against Birmingham on Sunday, while Terry could be out for up to a month after damaging knee ligaments in training on Saturday.
Even some of Mourinho's available players are far from fully fit. Frank Lampard has played through the pain barrier after breaking a toe, while Claudio Pizarro is struggling with a back injury.
It is a litany of bad luck that would have most managers reaching for a stiff drink. Surely it wouldn't get any worse? Yes, it could.
Chelsea were beaten by the champions at Wembley after Edwin van der Sar saved all three of the London team's penalties in the shoot-out that followed a fiesty 1-1 draw.
But Mourinho refuses to feel sorry for himself, insisting he has confidence in his few remaining healthy players.
"I'm not worried about it," he said. "When they are back they are back. I'm ready to go like I was today.
"I will go to the fight with these boys. I think only about these ones. I work with them, I play with them and I trust them, so no problem.
"It was not easy to prepare this game but what makes me happy was Manchester United were almost at maximum power and, if you look at Chelsea, we had more than 50 percent of the team being out, but we competed against them.
"They were not better than us and that gives us confidence for the start of the season."
Mourinho is pinning his hopes on having several of the walking wound back by the end of the international break, which comes after Chelsea's first three matches.
"We have two weeks to play and after that it stops for the national team week," he said. "I have to make decisions about the three matches we have to play against Birmingham, Reading and Liverpool.
"When you have so many out, I hope at least one or two can be back."
Ryan Giggs had given United the lead in the annual meeting between the champions and FA Cup winners, but Florent Malouda cancelled out that fine first half strike.
Then van der Sar stole the spotlight as he saved Pizzaro, Lampard and Shaun Wright-Phillips's spot-kicks to hand United an early psychological advantage over their title rivals.
Sir Alex Ferguson insists United are far from the finished article as he waits to bed in his four close-season signings.
Only Nani was involved at Wembley, but Ferguson could have Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez available for the Reading match on Sunday.
Tevez will officially complete his move from West Ham this week before playing in one of United's two friendlies against Glentoran or Dunfermline on Wednesday.
"We're nowhere near ready yet. The four new players have all got a bit of work to do, so it leaves us with the present squad from last season," Ferguson said. "Gary Neville, Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are still to come back as well, so we are not as strong as we could be.
"Nani has had a couple of appearances in the Far East but he's still well short of 100 percent fitness. Anderson felt his hamstring was a bit tight on Friday night, so there is some work to be done there.
"Owen Hargreaves has only played his first game on Saturday. Tevez trained with us on Friday and Saturday but obviously he's got a bit of work to do."
|Mata backs Herrera to star in Premier League|
|Injured Rafael returning to Manchester|
|Schmidt demands more from Leverkusen|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Defensor Sporting banking on home record|
|Remy´s Liverpool move off, confirms Rodgers|
|Inzaghi demands nastiness from Milan|
|MLS Review: Timbers triumph in Montreal, Dallas thwart Vancouver|
|Jovetic ready to lead City line - Pellegrini|
|Lewandowski impresses Ribery, Alaba|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Three clubs remain perfect, Atletico Nacional get off the mark|
|Rodgers: ´We can score goals´ without Suarez|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Canales brace powers Universidad Chile|
|Atletico Madrid need penalties to edge past Earthquakes|
|Liga MX Review: Monterrey, America stay perfect|
|Paraguayan Primera Division Review: Capiata set pace|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro win again, Kaka scores|
|Sterling goal sees Liverpool past Olympiacos|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Los Caimanes notch maiden win, Inti Gas claim top spot|
|CAF Champions League Review: Zamalek held, Vita Club leave it late|
|Jovetic at the double as Manchester City thrash Milan|
|Monk thrilled by Sigurdsson contribution|
|Lovren signs for Liverpool|
|Mourinho pleased with Olimpija test|
|Vertonghen eager to remain at Spurs|
|Sigurdsson marks Swansea return with a brace|
|Lewandowski, Rode help Bayern retain Telekom Cup|
|Immobile scores and suffers injury in Dortmund win|
|Costa scores on Chelsea debut|
|CAF Confederation Cup Review: Leopards de Dolisie 1 Real Bamako 2|
|Thai Premier League Review: Buriram pull clear, Police edge away from danger|
|Falcao nears Monaco return|
|CSL Review: Harbin Yiteng produce another upset, Evergrande stretch lead|
|Britton and Emnes to miss season-opener|
|Taylor-Fletcher strike sinks Everton|
|J.League Review: Chasing pack close on Urawa Reds, Tokushima Vortis secure rare win|
|Ancelotti expects fresh Bale to be even better|
|Simeone keen on Griezmann|
|Mazzarri refuses to set Inter targets|
|Lazio director targeted by fans|
|Dyche rules out Deeney move|
|Rummenigge: Bayern will never sack Guardiola|
|BREAKING NEWS: Arsenal to bring in Ospina|
|Pochettino quiet on Schneiderlin link|
|Vidic settling into Inter life|
|Van Gaal hints at Zaha United future|
|Di Maria will report for training - Ancelotti|
|Wilshere vows to answer critics|
|Rodgers expecting titles|
|Deila demands Celtic cutting edge|
|Rodgers: We won´t rush Lallana|
|Wenger: We have to be better against top-level teams|
|FIGC presidential candidate uses racist slur|
|MLS Review: Columbus claim second straight win, Toronto falter|
|Villa battle past Dynamo in Houston|
|United more efficient, says Garcia|
|Pedestrian Tottenham edge past Chicago Fire|
|Van Gaal bemoans display|
|CS Sfaxien 1 ES Tunis 0: Troussier era opens with a win|
|Icardi stars from the spot as Inter overcome Real Madrid|
|Arsenal upstaged by Red Bulls|
|Pre-Season Friendly Review: Rooney stars for United, Bayern reach Telekom final|
|In-form Rooney inspires Manchester United win|
|CAF Confederation Cup Review: Cotonsport on verge of progress|
|Ribery helps Bayern to penalty victory on return|
|Balzaretti suffers another injury blow|
|Puel confirms Ospina departure|
|Beckham backs Rodriguez to be Real hit|
|Bojan fails to inspire Stoke|
|Long on target as Hull held by Barnsley|
|Cardiff issue Medel warning|
|Ferreyra sorry for late Shakhtar return|
|Payet rules out Swansea move|
|Gilchrist nets winner as Burnley edge Accrington|
|Cazorla optimistic for new season|
|Celtic suffer St Pauli defeat|
|QPR lose on Ferdinand debut|
|Mashaba handed Bafana Bafana role|
|Van Aanholt eager to prove himself|
|Areola completes Bastia loan switch|
|Ospina imminent, but Szczesny gets Wenger´s backing|
|Reus happy with progress|
|Alleged spot-fixers released|
|Giuly: Mathieu can be the next Abidal|
|Allardyce hoping to keep hold of Morrison|
|Monk hails quality of Swansea additions|
|Van Gaal orders United players to speak English|
|Allardyce: We must improve|
|Campbell thrilled by Palace switch|
|Bojan drawn by Stoke style|
|Palace were wasteful, says Pulis|
|Van Gaal suits me - Cleverley|
|Newcastle stay perfect in NZ|
|Van Gaal prepared to wait for Strootman|
|West Brom overcome Sacramento|
|Colorado Rapids 3 Chivas USA 0: Hosts rise to third in the West|
|Gameiro brace adds to West Ham woes|
|Villas-Boas: Rodriguez best suited to no.10 role|
|Cazorla: I´m happy at Arsenal|
|Reina respects Liverpool contract|
|Lampard could move to Melbourne on loan|
|Galliani: Balotelli ´99.9 per cent´ staying|
|Own goal helps Palace win in Philadelphia|
|Mourinho: Shaw deal would have ´killed´ Chelsea|
|Al Ahli Benghazi 0 ES Setif 2: Visitors on verge of semi-final spot|
|Julio Cesar returns to QPR|
|Rooney wants to lead United|