COBHAM - Chelsea's caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo is hoping to avoid what he described on Tuesday as the "worst-case scenario" with reserves and youngsters on the bench for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Di Matteo, whose future whether Chelsea win or lose the game at Bayern's Allianz Arena is far from certain, said he was facing one of the biggest challenges of his career especially as Chelsea have four players suspended and possibly three senior men missing with injuries.
Captain John Terry, defender Branislav Ivanovic and midfielders Raul Meireles and Ramires are all banned from the final while Di Matteo said Florent Malouda was "touch and go" after pulling a hamstring during the first half of Sunday's final Premier League match against Blackburn Rovers.
David Luiz and Gary Cahill also have hamstring injuries, but were training on Tuesday after missing most of the last month.
Di Matteo told a packed marquee at Chelsea's training ground in Cobham, south of London: "Flo (Malouda), we'll still assess and it's going to be touch and go for him to be available for Saturday."
Di Matteo would be forced to complete his bench with reserves and youngsters if Luiz and Cahill were also out. "That's the worse-case scenario," he said.
"We will take some reserve-team players onto the bench, into the squad, and just figure out what to do. I've been trying different options in training and different solutions just in case."
While Saturday's game could be Di Matteo's last in charge of Chelsea, he said all he was thinking about after the final was having a holiday.
He refused to be drawn on a possible move back to one of his former clubs, West Bromwich Albion, after being sacked from there as manager last year.
"In my life, I've gone back to an ex-girlfriend and it didn't work out. I'm not sure whether it's the right move," he said.
Di Matteo did not think Chelsea had gained any advantage after Bayern lost the German Cup final 5-2 to Borussia Dortmund in Berlin on Saturday.
"I don't think that will have any effect on the Bayern team," he told reporters. "They are extremely professional and they will move on from it very quickly as they know they have a big game on Saturday. I don't think it gives us any advantage."
He also played down the idea that Bayern would benefit from playing the game in their own stadium.
"It might give them a bit of an advantage because they know the environment and the pitch, but because they are playing at home there might be more pressure on them so I am not sure it gives them a real advantage at all."