Alex still frozen out at Chelsea

Andre Villas-Boas insists he will not bring Alex in from the cold, even if it means Chelsea starting today’s west London derby with John Terry as their only fit centre-half.

Despite having claimed Alex – sidelined after submitting a transfer request – could force his way back, he had declared the defender would not be recalled, even if the worst happened. It did, when Branislav Ivanovic limped out of Thursday night’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham.

Asked if he had changed his mind about Alex ahead of Monday’s game against Fulham, Villas-Boas said: “No.”

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In fairness, Chelsea coped admirably with the loss of Ivanovic, despite Jose Bosingwa being forced from right-back to centre-half. Paulo Ferreira also impressed at right-back having not previously featured in the Premier League this season.

“This was a fantastic adaptation and another solution that we have in the squad,” Villas-Boas said.

With Ivanovic almost certainly out, Villas-Boas was hoping David Luiz would return from the knee problem that has sidelined him from the last two games. He would even consider playing young midfielder Oriol Romeu alongside Terry rather than turn to Alex.

“Hopefully, David can return for contention against Fulham,” he said. “If not, Oriol and Bosingwa can both play that position - and Paulo has in the past.”

Any defensive crisis may last no more than a week, with Bolton boss Owen Coyle confirming the clubs were in talks over the transfer of Gary Cahill. Villas-Boas said of Cahill, “He is extremely interesting, but we would be stupid if we shortened our targets just to one.”

He added: “We will be in the market for a centre-half. It’s pretty obvious, based on the fact that we’ve accepted Alex’s transfer request.

“We will have to respond quickly in the market, not because of the urgency but because we’re willing to fill that position with one more central defender.”