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."
|Youngsters inspire Sunderland to win at Hartlepool|
|Aluko and Sagbo net as Hull City beat York|
|PSG loan Aurier from Toulouse|
|Emotional Davies thanks Swansea fans|
|Mandzukic makes debut as Atletico win|
|Filipe makes bow in Chelsea draw|
|Bahebeck stars again as PSG beat Nice|
|Conte rubbishes PSG talk|
|Tottenham sign Davies and Vorm as Sigurdsson joins Swansea|
|De Laurentiis vows Napoli will fight for Scudetto|
|Lyon sign Jallet from PSG|
|Rijeka deny racism allegations|
|Suarez has been treated ´like a murderer´, says Aspas|
|Basel secure Samuel swoop|
|Thai Premier League Review: Buriram go top as Muang Thong slip up|
|Dnipro-Copenhagen clash moved to Kiev|
|Tevez never considered Juve exit|
|Djuricic joins Mainz on loan|
|Cavani keen on PSG stay|
|Shaqiri flattered by Juventus link|
|Johnson, Sommer arrive at Monchengladbach|
|J.League Review: Kawasaki close gap on Sagan, Urawa move clear at top|
|Coleman to miss Everton´s Thailand trip|
|Thankful Rueda bids farewell to Ecuador|
|Liga MX Preview: Peralta set for home debut, Leon seek recovery|
|K.League Review: Top two draw blanks, Jeju United close in|
|CAF Champions League Preview: Zamalek primed for crucial game, CS Sfaxien meet ES Tunis|
|Low quashes Germany exit rumours|
|Getafe agree Michel loan|
|Porto bring in Brahimi from Granada|
|Pardew satisfied with attacking signings|
|Pellegrini targets further City signings|
|Sevilla complete Krychowiak deal|
|Eisfeld makes Fulham move|
|Zarate opens account as West Ham stumble|
|I have nothing to prove, says Ince|
|Barcelona seal Mathieu deal|
|United prepared to spend big, claims Woodward|
|Shakhtar to play in Lviv|
|Pereyra poised for Juve switch|
|Fabregas eyes trophies at Chelsea|
|Vorm confirms Tottenham transfer|
|Deila: Forster will leave Celtic eventually|
|No pressure for Shaw|
|Van Gaal happy with preparations|
|Diarra aiming for Bordeaux return after West Ham frustration|
|Last season for Montpellier owner Nicollin|
|Monaco: Rodriguez deal too good to ignore|
|Nacional Asuncion 2 Defensor Sporting 0: Hosts surge towards Libertadores final|
|Garcia eyeing Serie A title|
|Father against Vlasic´s move abroad|
|Rodgers welcomes Gerrard´s international retirement|
|Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro bid for Robinho|
|Inzaghi not drawn into Balotelli speculation|
|Dunga ´not going to sell a dream´|
|City´s Fofana allegedly racially abused|
|Carroll ruled out of NZ friendlies|
|Rodgers excited by new arrivals|
|Zeljeznicar 2 Metalurg Skopje 2 (agg 2-2): Visitors advance on away goals|
|Gibson returns as Tranmere hold Everton|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Celtic coast through, BATE given scare|
|Gomez and Jones feature in Sunderland win|
|Leicester hit Ilkeston for six|
|Austin fires QPR to narrow victory|
|Guardiola: No trophies and I may be sacked|
|Dortmund held as Immobile makes debut|
|Rodriguez´s dream becomes Real|
|Garcia: Benatia and Ljajic going nowhere|
|Stoke secure Bojan on four-year deal|
|FA: No World Cup bids for England|
|Kroos commits to Bremen|
|Caulker makes QPR move|
|Forest agree Hunt loan deal with Palace|
|Bartra ready to prove himself at Barca|
|Southampton looking to sell Osvaldo|
|Marveaux loaned to Guingamp|
|Mourinho eyes success on two fronts|
|Sammer encouraged by Lewandowski start|
|PSG punished for abuse of Chelsea fans|
|Dunga unveiled as Brazil coach|
|Shakhtar CEO: Focus is on players´ safety|
|Foster agrees new West Brom deal|
|Real Madrid sign Rodriguez|
|Mustafi eyes Bundesliga switch|
|Klopp laughs off Hummels, Reus speculation|
|Campana makes Sampdoria switch|
|Leicester seal Ulloa deal|
|Morata sidelined for seven weeks with knee injury|
|Riviere on target in comfortable Newcastle win|
|Advocaat set for Serbia role|
|Wisdom joins West Brom on loan|
|Bundesliga to consider vanishing foam|
|Five-man shortlist for Ivory Coast|
|´Personal issues´ keep Gervinho away from Roma tour|
|Jedinak raring to go|
|Borini set for Liverpool stay, claims agent|
|Koeman: No bids for Lovren|
|Livermore: England hopes shouldn´t hinge on club side|
|MLS Preview: Tough tests for Conference leaders, Revolution still struggling|
|Mathieu not Barca material, says Marquez|
|West Brom claim unimpressive win in Sacramento|
|Neymar: Brazil behind Germany, Spain|
|Vietnamese police confirm match-fixing players|
|Lucescu blames Joorabchian for AWOL players|
|Robinho undecided on future|
|Rush: Still years left in Gerrard|
|Tiago re-signs with Atletico|
|Puyol against Spain overhaul|
|Agger considering his Liverpool future|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Juan Aurich bounce back, Melgar draw with Inti Gas|
|Bayern deny interest in Cuadrado|
|New signings on show in Hull double-header|
|Hooiveld strike sinks Swindon|
|Costa departs Valencia|
|Morata suffers knee injury in training|
|K.League Preview: Seoul, Sangju aim to close gap to sixth, Ulsan host Jeonbuk|
|Lewandowski off the mark on Bayern bow|
|Gerrard retirement will boost Liverpool - Carragher|
|World Cup bidding report due in September|
|Evra bids emotional farewell to United fans|
|J.League Preview: Ventforet Kofu look to escape drop zone, Sagan Tosu battle Kawasaki Frontale|
|Salah spared military service|
|Garcia would welcome Torres return|
|Livermore understands Ince decision|
|Cole happy to get away from English press|
|Evra seals Juve switch|
|Bayern stay was Kroos´ ´priority´|
|Scuffet: Udinese right place to continue developing|
|Gerrard retires from England duty|
|Ambitious Pochettino targets title|
|Aspas eager to put ´bad season´ behind him|
|Atletico Mineiro v Lanus: Visitors out to recover from first-leg loss|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Sligo, Inter Baku out to finish shocks|
|Hughes expects Bojan decision soon|
|Cech on the mend - Holland|
|Pardew eager to honour crash victims|
|Prandelli hits back at critics|
|Negredo breaks metatarsal|
|Rooney eager to impress Van Gaal|
|Palacios´ Qatar move falls through|
|Wenger rules out striker signing|
|Six Shakhtar players refuse to return|
|Six Vietnamese footballers arrested for match fixing|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Nacional Asuncion, San Lorenzo to host first legs|
|Mata hopeful of title|
|Napoli bullish about Scudetto chances|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Patriotas Boyaca, Deportes Tolima start with wins|
|Subotic thrilled to be back|
|Germain: Monaco can replace Rodriguez|
|Sullivan confident of Carroll improvement|
|Callejon staying put|
|DC United 3 Chivas USA 1: DC end Chivas´ winning run|
|Liga MX Review: Goalkeeping howler costs champions Leon, Monterrey move top|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Huachipato, Santiago Wanderers opening-day winners|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Internacional rout Flamengo, Cruzeiro win again|
|Prosinecki keen on South Korea job|