Villas-Boas warns Torres starting place is not safe

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The Independent Football

Fernando Torres has been warned he faces being dropped from the Chelsea starting line-up if his performances start to compromise the club's chances of keeping pace in the Premier League title race.

Torres did not make Spain's bench for the win over Liechtenstein earlier this week and Andre Villas-Boas, his club manager, is willing to use other options if the striker's lack of confidence in front of goal affects other areas of his game.

Villas-Boas is unconcerned by the £50m striker's record of scoring only once in 21 club games since his move from Liverpool, but he added: "The moment it compromises the team, it has to come to an end. You didn't lose talent because you played 21 games and scored one goal. Talent is there and it is a question of regaining confidence.

"That comes with training and time and finding the back of the net, and you have to persist. But it can never compromise the objectives of the team and the things you want to achieve."

Torres faces competition this week from Daniel Sturridge returning from suspension but Didier Drogba will miss the Premier League trip to Sunderland as he recovers from concussion.

Drogba has also been ruled out of the Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen and will undergo further neurological tests before he returns to full training. He faces a race against time to be fit to play at Manchester United on Sunday week.

The Ivory Coast forward was knocked unconscious by John Ruddy during the recent victory over Norwich City. "He has been doing light sessions in the gym with our physios," said Villas-Boas. "Let's push it to the limit to try to make him available for United."