Benitez talks Chelsea fatigue, title hopes
Chelsea hope to be in a position to rest Fernando Torres for Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie against Southampton by registering Demba Ba in time to play at St Mary's.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew last night described Ba's move to Stamford Bridge as "done", after the Blues triggered the £7m release clause in the Senegal striker's contract.
Ba's persistent knee problem could complicate transfer negotiations, however, and Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has refused to speak about the 27-year-old. However, the former Inter Milan coach has admitted Chelsea must give Torres a break after blaming fatigue for last night's 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League.
"Fernando is one of the players who needs to rest," said Benitez. "Two or three players have been playing too many games in the last weeks and months.
"Managing that was going well, but against QPR it didn't work. Some of the players couldn't get to the level we were expecting.
"Without talking about names, if you have another striker, you can play with two strikers if you need to. Or if you want to rest a striker then you can do that, and at the moment we are a bit short."
Title pursuit all but over
Shaun Wright-Phillips all but extinguished his former club's faint title hopes by firing the second-half winner at Stamford Bridge. Leaders Manchester United are 14 points ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea, and Benitez conceded their chances of now overhauling the Red Devils are bleak.
He said: "I haven't been worried about the league table, I've just talked about one game at a time, and now it's the same situation. If you can't win your games it will be more difficult, but the priority is to think about the next game and give the players the confidence that we had before. We will analyse what went wrong and try to carry on with the things that we were doing really well.
"We have to do everything almost perfectly now if we want to reduce the gap. When you lose a game it's more difficult, but I can't be thinking about how many points we need."
Captain John Terry will soon begin warming-up with his team-mates as part of his rehabilitation from a knee injury, but the date for his comeback remains uncertain.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech is expected to be out for two to three weeks with his groin problem.