Villas-Boas to keep rotating
Andre Villas-Boas has stated his intention to continue rotating his Chelsea squad in a bid to get them all as fit as possible ahead of his first season in charge.
Villas-Boas is under pressure to make a flying start to the season given the high expectations at Chelsea, and particularly those of owner Roman Abramovich, though they have been in impressive form during their pre-season tour of Asia.
"I think our objective is to finish as equal as possible in terms of minutes played to everyone," Villas-Boas said. "What we will do [against Aston Villa in the Asia Cup final] we will continue to do against Rangers, distributing minutes so everybody feels in shape, and reinforce the principles we have been applying to training in a game situation.
"It won't be only about selection but spreading out the minutes, hopefully making the seven substitutions we are allowed, which was changed from five. It is important to give minutes to everybody before the start of the Premiership so these two last games we will have we will keep this.
"Team performances and commitment and compromise have been excellent bearing in mind the conditions and situations we are facing. We take a big step with Aston Villa, bearing in mind the quality of the team they have and the new impetus Alex is trying to bring. It will be a different test from before.
"What they propose is a different level of competitiveness and intensity of the game. It will lack the emotions of the English stadiums but we will have a good atmosphere at Hong Kong Stadium because we have been getting that, and again it is a different kind of challenge for us.
Villas-Boas also suggested he may keep young striker Daniel Sturridge at the club. The 21-year-old impressed while out on loan at Bolton last season but is now expected to challenge for first team football at Stamford Bridge.
"I wouldn't like to focus again on an individual, but Daniel deserved above all to come back to this club and have this pre-season with us," Villas-Boas said.
"This is the group where he belongs and he has shown the quality he showed at Bolton when he went there. He has a natural ability and amazing physical qualities and I think he is showing that what he did in Bolton is enough to make a point for us in Chelsea, and that's why we are evaluating all situations.
"He is a great prospect, I have no doubt about it and we will make a decision soon and inform Daniel on his situation, but I think he has shown a lot of his qualities and he has shown enough capacity to be in this environment and this squad."