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.”