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Alex denies Delap can throw up a Cup shock

Brazilian centre-half Alex is confident Chelsea can repel the aerial bombardment of Rory Delap's long throws to overcome Stoke and reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

Alex is likely to partner captain John Terry in defence as Ricardo Carvalho is nursing a hamstring injury suffered on international duty with Portugal.

The defender will have to deal with the physical presence of City striker Ricardo Fuller, plus the threat of Delap's long throw.

But the 27-year-old insists he is ready for the challenge as the FA Cup holders look to reach the last four.

"We have to pay attention to the second ball," Alex said.

"Sometimes it is difficult to win the first one, but you have to win the second. You have to play very concentrated and stay compact.

"Fuller has quality with the ball and he is a strong, strong man, so we have to play strong also and don't leave any space."

Midfielder Joe Cole will be given another chance against Stoke to prove that he can win a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad.

Cole's contract expires at the end of the season but he has yet to agree new terms, fuelling speculation that his relationship with the club's owner Roman Abramovich has broken down over his wage demands.

But assistant coach Ray Wilkins insists that Cole will remain at Chelsea. He said: "I have spoken to Joe on numerous occasions.

"He wants to stay at Chelsea and I am sure that we will sort the situation out."

Chelsea will also have to cope for the rest of the season without the services of right-back Jose Bosingwa.

He requires a further operation on his damaged knee and will miss the remainder of the season and the World Cup finals with Portugal.