Torres may benefit from being dropped, says Villas-Boas

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LONDON (Reuters) -- Being dropped could provide Chelsea striker Fernando Torres with extra motivation to turn his game around, manager Andre Villas-Boas said on the eve of Tuesday's Champions League home tie with Bayer Leverkusen.

The misfiring Spaniard, who has scored just one goal since his record 50 million pounds ($79.01 million) move from Liverpool in January, was relegated to the bench for Saturday's 2-1 win at Sunderland and has no guarantee of a recall for the European opener.

"I think any player who's not part of the squad or part of the selected players is not happy," Villas-Boas told a news conference on Monday without saying whether he planned to field Torres against the German side at Stamford Bridge.

"I'm glad because maybe you can stimulate them to go one step further or motivate them a bit more."

Chelsea are also investigating an interview Torres gave to a Spanish website last week where he appeared to suggest some of his older team mates were "very slow".

He has said he was misquoted but Villas-Boas wants to listen to a recording to make up his own mind.

Asked what action he would take if Torres had made the criticism, the Portuguese said they would "just talk" although the player could be fined if the interview had not been authorised by the club.

Whether Torres plays on Tuesday or not could be part of Villas-Boas's broader policy that squad rotation is going to be key to success in Europe's elite club competition.

Coveted by club owner Roman Abramovich, who has invested millions of pounds trying to create a team who can win it for the first time, the Champions League is harder to win than the World Cup according to Villas-Boas.


"The Champions League is more difficult because it is an 'in-between' competition," the Portuguese explained.

"It is a more difficult task because it requires more of the players' talent and more of the manager's awareness to rotate a couple of them, keep everybody fresh, to motivate everybody."

Villas-Boas added strength in depth in squads was vital and that with so many clubs having just that it was again going to be a tough competition this year.

"It is regular that the team who wins the Champions League normally wins their domestic title so you really have to balance the amount of minutes the players have, plus the recovery they should be allowed for the squad to be fresh in both competitions," he said.

"For that to happen you need the best available talent you can get and there are a lot of teams that have these in-depth squads in Europe this season."

One player Villas-Boas must do without on Tuesday is Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba who was concussed in an aerial challenge in the game against Norwich City two weeks ago.

"Didier did some damage to his teeth when he fell to the ground and we decided to give him some days off," the manager said. "Hopefully he will return against Manchester United on Sunday."