Rafael Benitez, the interim Chelsea manager, has told Fernando Torres to expect more time on the bench in the second half of the season, as he looks to freshen up his forward line in January.
Chelsea are in the midst of attempting to prise Demba Ba away from Newcastle and even though club sources have admitted negotiations with the Senegalese forward's representatives have been "unproductive", Benitez has spoken of his need to "manage" Torres through periods of rest. He is also aware of his limited options up front at the moment, with Daniel Sturridge's impending move to Liverpool.
Torres has started all of Chelsea's 19 Premier League games this season, with a return of seven goals. But Benitez said: "We are trying to manage the team so when I can change Fernando I will do it. We will try to manage him and hopefully we can do things properly. He wants the team to be winning games and he understands that is the way so he will accept this."
Benitez accepts Chelsea "need bodies", which brings the inevitable question of who is actually in charge of sanctioning signings, given that the manager is at Stamford Bridge on a short-term deal.
And he ducked the question of whether any additions would be brought in at his say-so, merely saying: "I will be the manager so I will manage them."
He added: "You can always improve things, especially when you have injuries, and we lose two players to the African Cup of Nations. Obviously we need bodies but I am really pleased with the squad. They train well, the commitment is there and they are keen to learn."
Chelsea have had a productive festive period, winning their last three games, scoring 11 and conceding only one. And as they welcome close neighbours QPR to Stamford Bridge today, Benitez says recent results have instilled belief in the side.
"The team has more confidence and belief that we can do things", he said. "Because we are playing so well they were thinking, 'OK, we can play nice football' but against Norwich [where they won 1-0 on Boxing Day] it was a tough game but they put in a professional performance as a team. That is good.
"We watched some clips on TV and the players can see what they are doing and how they are improving. After [the 2-1 win at] Everton last Sunday we have a lot of situations we can analyse and see how we can improve but also there were a lot of positives because we saw the character against a team that is in form at the moment.
"If they win, they have more confidence. After, little by little, you can see they enjoy the movement, the positions, the things we are trying to do and they are playing better football."
Referee L Mason (Lancashire).
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