Ancelotti believes in Bruma
Carlo Ancelotti has put his faith in Jeffrey Bruma to help lift Chelsea further out of their end-of-year slump after confirming the teenager will make his full Premier League debut in tomorrow's clash with Aston Villa.
Blues manager Ancelotti has turned to the 19-year-old to fill the void left by Branislav Ivanovic, who is suspended after foolishly picking up his fifth yellow card of the campaign against Bolton Wanderers in the final match before the mid-season amnesty.
Despite having made only eight first-team appearances and just two starts since joining Chelsea from Feyenoord in 2007, Bruma has been preferred to Paulo Ferreira for the champions' first match of 2011.
Right-back Ferreira played as a makeshift centre-half when John Terry and Alex were injured for November's game with Sunderland. But the move backfired spectacularly as Chelsea were crushed 3-0, their biggest home defeat since 2002.
Ancelotti is clearly unwilling to risk a repeat against Villa, with his players' confidence still fragile after Wednesday's ugly 1-0 win over Bolton ended the Blues' worst league run for 11 years.
And while Bruma may be a rookie, he is highly rated by both club and country, making his full Netherlands debut against Ukraine this summer and recently signing a new four-year contract at Stamford Bridge.
"It is the time that we can use Bruma," Ancelotti told Chelsea TV. "He is a young player who is a very good defender. He has a lot of ability, he has played some games and, in this time, he is improving. He works very closely with John Terry, Ivanovic and Alex and it is the time to put him in. I am sure that he will do his best."
Bruma has already started in both the Carling Cup and UEFA Champions League this season and Ancelotti has backed captain Terry to guide him through his full Premier League debut.
"For Bruma, it will be fantastic support to have Terry alongside," said the Italian. "He trained very well, he knows how he has to move but, with John Terry, it will be easier to move."
Chelsea will once again be without holding midfielder John Obi Mikel tomorrow, with the club confirming he will remain out for around three more weeks after straining knee ligaments in Monday night's 3-1 defeat at Arsenal.
Another win required
Chelsea will start tomorrow's game in fifth place if Tottenham Hotspur beat Fulham today and would then need to win to climb back into a Champions League spot as well as maintain realistic hopes of defending their title. They began 2011 four points behind Manchester United having played a game more and will be seven adrift if the unbeaten leaders win at West Bromwich Albion today.
Ancelotti said: "We have to beat Aston Villa because we have to confirm the performance in the second half against Bolton. Obviously, we have to improve our place in the table and we are not sure everything is okay now. We have to confirm this with a good performance to start the new year with confidence."
On paper, Villa look like the ideal opponents for Chelsea to further boost their confidence. They were thrashed 7-1 at Stamford Bridge last season and are in the midst of a slump even more alarming than tomorrow's opponents have been enduring, having lost six of their last seven games in all competitions.
They have sunk to within touching distance of the drop zone but Ancelotti said: "Aston Villa are in trouble now and we have to pay a lot of attention because every game for them will be important. They can use maybe the game against us to move on and, for this reason, we have to pay attention because they will use a lot of energy for this game."