1. ITV Report

Walsall keeper questions lack of leaders at Chelsea

Frank Lampard is one of the senior figures to have left Chelsea recently. Photo: PA

Walsall keeper Neil Etheridge has questioned Chelsea's character and insisted they lack leaders.

The former Stamford Bridge trainee believes Jose Mourinho's stuttering side are missing key elements as he eyes a cup shock.

Etheridge spent four years at Chelsea between 2002 and 2006 and saw the arrival of owner Roman Abramovich in 2003 and Mourinho a year later.

Chelsea have seven points from their opening six games after Saturday's 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Arsenal and head to the Banks's Stadium in the Capital One Cup third round on Wednesday.

And, after losing Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole last year and Didier Drogba and Petr Cech this summer, Etheridge reckons the Blues miss them.

"I look at that team and it's a fantastic bunch of players but I don't know how many leaders they have got," said the keeper.

"The thing which is going on with John Terry no-one really knows the answer to. No-one knows the true story. He is a massive leader in the team.

"They lost Frank, who is another massive leader.

"Working closely with Mark Schwarzer last year he named a few of the leaders who spoke to the gaffer and they seem to have all left this year. Maybe that's where they missing on the field, they want someone to take control.

"It's hard, at that level you need a couple - if not three or four leaders - to pull that team through."

Didier Drogba is another experienced player to leave Stamford Bridge. Credit: PA

Terry is the last of Chelsea's old guard after Cech and Drogba's exit and is expected to face the Saddlers after being dropped against Arsenal, but Etheridge has nothing but admiration for the ex-England skipper.

"John used to pay for the scholarship players to have their driving licences and their tests and stuff," said the 25-year-old.

"That's great and things like that brought the academy closer to the first team. Until the back end of the first time Mourinho was there were a lot of English-based players.

"They were big-time players but we never really saw them that way. We saw them for their true colours when we got to train with them."

Etheridge, who joined the Sky Bet League One Saddlers in the summer, moved to Fulham in 2006 when he left Stamford Bridge as a 16-year-old.

The Philippines international was a ball boy, though, during his time at Chelsea and admitted he will give the same orders he got if Walsall are leading late on.

He added: "I think I'll be giving the ball boys some hand gestures to slow it down, we won't want any more. Those are the things as a ball boy you might not understand when you start."