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Lampard sure Hilario will step up while Cech is out

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is confident Hilario will prove an able deputy to Petr Cech in the Blues' goal.

Cech will be out for at least a month after he tore a calf muscle in Wednesday's Champions League defeat by Inter Milan at the San Siro.

The keeper was carried off in the second half of the 2-1 loss after damaging his calf when collecting a cross.

The Czech Republic international underwent further scans on the injury yesterday and the club confirmed last night that Cech will be out of action for up to a month.

It means he will miss tomorrow's clash with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge and the return European leg against Inter on March 16.

It is a bitter blow for Chelsea as they continue to battle for glory in the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup.

But England midfielder Lampard, while admitting Cech's absence will be a "huge blow" for Carlo Ancelotti's side, is convinced deputy Hilario is the perfect replacement.

"It is a huge blow to lose Petr," admitted Lampard. "He has been in fantastic form, as everyone knows, and he has always been up there with the best in the world. No-one wants to lose that.

"But Hilario has never let us down at all. He has been brilliant every time he has come in, whether it is for one game or a run of them.

"That is something we are not worried about. You have to have faith in him, and Ross Turnbull behind him, and we certainly have that."

Cech's injury compounded a night when Chelsea lost their last-16 first-leg tie despite outplaying their hosts for much of the game in Milan.

The Blues, facing former boss Jose Mourinho for the first time since he left the club in September 2007, were stunned by a third-minute strike from Diego Milito.

Salomon Kalou equalised in the 51st minute only for Esteban Cambiasso to fire the winner four minutes later.

The away goal could prove crucial but Lampard does not believe Chelsea can be described as favourites to go through to the quarter-finals.

"Inter Milan are a very good team and not to be underestimated," said Lampard. I think it would be very naive to say we are the favourites because they can also score at our place. So I would say the tie is 50-50."

It will be an emotional return to Stamford Bridge for Inter boss Mourinho, and Lampard is well aware his side have the capability to hurt them at home as well.

"The away goal is very important these days and a 1-0 defeat would have been very frustrating for us," he added.

"But we were pleased to get it back to 1-1, and (were) then frustrated to give away another one. But our goal does give us something to go for at home.

"We know if we win the game 1-0 (on March 16) we go through but also we have confidence in ourselves that we can create as many chances, if not more than we did here (in Italy), and try and score more than one goal."


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