AVB rules out Alex recall

Villas-Boas was asked on Wednesday whether he would reverse his
decision to banish Alex from his first-team squad should the club
suffer an injury crisis. Despite having previously claimed Alex and
Nicolas Anelka, who were sidelined after submitting transfer
requests, could force their way back into his plans, he declared
the former would not be recalled – even if the worst happened.
Barely 24 hours later, it did, with Branislav Ivanovic limping out
of Thursday night’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Tottenham. Asked
afterwards if he had changed his mind about Alex ahead of Monday’s
game against Fulham, Villas-Boas simply said: “No.” In fairness,
Chelsea coped admirably at White Hart Lane with the loss of
Ivanovic, despite Jose Bosingwa being forced to move from
right-back to centre-half for what was possibly the first time in
his entire Stamford Bridge career. Paulo Ferreira also impressed at
right-back having not previously featured in the Premier League
this season. “This was a fantastic adaptation and another solution
that we have in the squad,” Villas-Boas said. With Ivanovic almost
certainly out of Monday’s match, Villas-Boas was hoping David Luiz
would return from the knee problem that has sidelined him from the
last two games. Otherwise, he insisted he would even consider
playing young midfielder Oriol Romeu alongside Terry rather than
turn to Alex. “Hopefully, David can return for contention for the
game against Fulham,” he said. “But, if not, from Oriol to
Bosingwa, both can play in that position – and Paulo has done it in
the past.” Any defensive crisis may last no more than a week, with
Bolton boss Owen Coyle on Friday confirming the club were in talks
with Chelsea over the transfer of Gary Cahill. Villas-Boas said of
Cahill, who Wanderers must sell to avoid losing for free in the
summer: “He is extremely interesting, a player of course that
terminates his contract. “But we would be stupid if we shortened
our targets just to one.” He added: “I think you know that we will
be in the market for a centre-half. It’s pretty obvious based on
the fact that we’ve accepted Alex’s transfer request. “We’ll have
to let the market open and then find out what happens regarding
Alex. “We will have to respond quickly in the market, not because
of the urgency but because we’re willing to fill that position with
one more central defender.” Chelsea have also been heavily linked
with a loan move for Juventus winger Milos Krasic, who has been
touted as a replacement for Shanghai-bound Anelka and cover for
Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou when they depart on African Nations
Cup duty. Krasic’s signing would allow Daniel Sturridge to deputise
at centre-forward, with Fernando Torres still struggling for form
and looking increasingly unlikely to find it sat on the bench.
Frank Lampard is of the same opinion about his own lot, with the
midfielder having now been left out for the last three big games.
The 33-year-old will return to the side on Monday after Ramires
picked up his fifth domestic booking of the season at White Hart
Lane. Villas-Boas said: “Lamps is an exceptional player and his
level of commitment and his level of talent will never be in doubt.
“I’m sure he’ll make his way back into the team again with the way
he fights in training to try to get back into contention.”
Fourth-placed Chelsea are also fighting to get back into contention
in a title race which sees them 11 points behind leaders Manchester
City, but Villas-Boas was expecting a backlash from a Fulham side
thrashed 5-0 at home by Manchester United on Wednesday night. He
said: “A result like that, also the result that they got in the
Europa League, generates revolt and generates anger, which can fuel
emotions for a London derby that is extremely difficult for us.”