Dempsey not a dirty player, says Sanchez after Terry foul

Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez has defended striker Clint Dempsey against claims he deliberately used his elbow to inflict the facial injury that will almost certainly keep Chelsea skipper John Terry out of this week's Champions League clash against Valencia.

Terry underwent an operation on a depressed fracture of a cheekbone sustained in a first half aerial collision with Dempsey during Saturday's 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

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The centre half could also miss Sunday's league game at Bolton and England's two Euro 2008 qualifiers later this month.

Avram Grant, Chelsea's new manager, said some of his players insisted afterwards that Dempsey had used an arm against Terry.

But the American, suspended for two games while playing for New England Revolution in the MLS last year when his flailing elbow broke the jaw of Kansas City's Jimmy Conrad, was not penalised by referee Martin Atkinson and Sanchez maintained: "I'm sure it wasn't malicious. Clint isn't that type of character.

"Clint is a strong player and so is John Terry. These things happen in football when two big men come together."

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Terry carried on until half time, but his absence in the second half and the needless dismissal of Didier Drogba left Chelsea fighting on the back foot.

The Blues have now not scored in four league games and lie eighth in the table, but Sanchez said: "Chelsea aren't a vulnerable team. If you've got top class players and you play at the level they're at you shouldn't be vulnerable and I'm sure they're not going to be.

"We've got Chelsea at our place on New Year's Day and I'm sure they will bring a different team and it will be a different type of game."