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Chelsea captain Conor Gallagher told to intervene after ‘mess’ between team-mates

Conor Gallagher has been told that he should have broken up a ‘mess’ between Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer after Chelsea were awarded a penalty against Leicester. Sterling seemed to take the ball from the usual spot-kick taker Palmer before seeing his effort saved by Jakub Stolarczyk.

The Blues avoided a humiliating collapse against the Foxes in the FA Cup on Sunday. They had led 2-0 before being pegged back to 2-2 – only for two late goals by Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke to seal their passage into a Wembley semi-final.

At 1-0, Sterling was fouled in the penalty area by Leicester winger Abdul Fatawu. Palmer grabbed the ball to take the penalty and was seen in intense discussion with team-mate Sterling.

He then handed the ball to the former Manchester City and Liverpool forward. Sterling’s tame strike was comfortably beaten away by Stolarczyk.

Former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes Gallagher, who was captain on the day in the absence of Reece James, should have stepped in. Hasselbaink feels that Palmer would not have wanted to give the ball to Sterling and needed a senior player to back him up.

Speaking as a pundit on the BBC, the Dutchman said: “Gallagher, as a captain, you should go to Sterling and say, ‘No, he’s the penalty taker. He’s taken five in a row, he’s scored all five. He needs to take it, it’s 1-0. Let’s secure this mess first’.”

Sterling endured a tough afternoon at Stamford Bridge. Moments after seeing his penalty saved, the 29-year-old struck wide after being put one-on-one with Stolarczyk. He was booed off late in the game after sending a free kick high into the stands – although he did assist Palmer’s goal to make the score 2-0.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino insists he has no problem with Sterling asking to take the penalty despite Palmer being the appointed taker. “Cole gave the ball to Raheem. I think they have a good relationship from Man City,” the Argentine said.

“When Raheem asked to take the penalty, you can see Cole [give him the ball]. It’s not a problem – Cole can miss, Raheem can miss. For me, the decision is theirs and I want to always support the decision of my players on the pitch.”

Pochettino added of Sterling: “It’s obvious that I cannot hide anything. The feelings weren’t good for him, but I’m going to support him and today is a great opportunity to support him.

“He has an unbelievable CV, he’s played in big teams and he’s an experienced player. He missed a penalty and some chances, but I’m happy with him and we are going to support him.”

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