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Carlo Ancelotti says Chelsea have taken "proper action" over air rifle incident

posted 28 Feb 2011, 09:07 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 28 Feb 2011, 09:10 ]

COBHAM, NEAR LONDON, UK. REUTERS - Chelsea have taken "proper action" against defender Ashley Cole after he accidentally shot

an intern with a high-powered air rifle at their training ground, manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday (February 28).

Police have said they are investigating newspaper reports that Cole shot a 21-year-old man, who was hit by lead pellets fired from an air rifle at the ground in Cobham, southwest of London, last week.

Ancelotti, speaking before Chelsea host Premier League leaders Manchester United on Tuesday, declined to say what action Chelsea had taken against the England international, but told reporters : "Obviously, we are not happy with what happened. But I have spoken with him. He was very disappointed with this, said sorry, made a mistake. It was an accident.

"We have taken proper action but tomorrow he will play.

"The mistake was that the gun was here in Cobham. We didn't know the gun was here."

Asked to whom Cole had apologised, Ancelotti replied: "First, he said sorry to the guy that was involved in this, second sorry to the team mates, third sorry to the club."

He said the club had not considered sacking the player, something that would probably have happened in any other job. "He is our player, he always had very good behaviour here,"

he said. "Now, we have to move on. Who didn't make a mistake in his life?"

A Surrey police spokeswoman said earlier that while no direct allegation had been made, the matter had been brought to their attention through media reports.

"We will be contacting the club in due course to establish whether any criminal offence has been committed," she said. Media reports said the 30-year-old defender had mistakenly shot the man using a .22 air rifle, the most powerful gun available without a licence in Britain.

Club staff treated the man, identified as sports sciences student Tom Cowan who was on work placement with Chelsea, according to reports. He did not need hospital treatment.

For the first time in years, Chelsea's prime concern in Tuesday's Premier League match against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge will not be the title.

Already 15 points behind leaders United and 11 adrift of second-placed Arsenal, Chelsea's hopes of retaining the title are long gone and instead they must focus on fighting it out with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur for the remaining Champions League berths.

Chelsea have not finished outside the top four since 2002, the year before Roman Abramovich took them over, and after subsequently failing to land the Champions League trophy he so desperately wants, the Russian billionaire is unlikely to be impressed by the prospect of the Europa League.

United have 60 points, four clear of Arsenal. City are third on 50, with Spurs on 47. Chelsea, on 45, have a game in hand on Spurs and the top two and two in hand over City. Chelsea's situation is still very much in their own hands as

they have still to play City and Spurs at Stamford Bridge, though they also have to travel to Old Trafford.

Their home record against United in recent years is strong having not lost since 2002 and, having had the weekend off, captain John Terry said his team were raring to go.

Although Chelsea had the weekend off they were still all over the newspapers after full back Ashley Cole was reported to have shot a member of the club's staff with a .22 air gun. The club said they were treating it as an internal issue and would be taking "appropriate action" but that might not be the end of the matter as Surrey Police, who control the area where the incident took place at the club's Cobham training ground, said on Monday they would be nvestigating to see whether a criminal offence had taken place.

United boss Alex Ferguson is well aware of the importance of the fixture. "It's always a big game at Chelsea," Ferguson told MUTV. "We used to have a great record down there but our record over the last seven years or so has been poor. We have to do something about that and that's what Tuesday is about."