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Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is high on Chelsea’s list of candidates to replace Andre Villas-Boas until the end of the season if Roman Abramovich loses patience with his coach.

Villas-Boas will find himself in a precarious position if things go badly at Napoli in the Champions League.

With his team fifth in the Barclays Premier League and facing a tricky FA Cup replay at Birmingham, Villas-Boas’s debut season at Chelsea continues to go from bad to worse.

Abramovich has also considered Fabio Capello but was told that the former England manager would not be interested  in a short-term position.

Benitez is believed to be open-minded and would be immediately available, having not worked since leaving Inter Milan at the end of 2010.

The Spaniard, 51, has a good track record at big clubs and a good history in the Champions League, the trophy Abramovich covets above all others.

Benitez is also thought to be capable of inspiring £50million misfit striker Fernando Torres, having brought the best out of his fellow Spaniard at Liverpool.

Villas-Boas remains confident that his job is safe, claiming Chelsea have changed their policy which has seen seven different managers in less than nine years under Abramovich.

Villas-Boas said: ‘Speculation is normal given the cultural past of this club but there’s a different perspective now. There’s a clear indication that there’s a change in the way we approach the projects for the future.

‘We have great belief in what we will do next year. That doesn’t take away any responsibility for what’s happening now. We can do well in the Champions League and the FA Cup. But we had a three-year project to change not only the team, but the culture and structure of the club.’

With Chelsea’s chief executive Ron Gourlay and chairman Bruce Buck in the room, Villas-Boas added: ‘These words would be more valuable coming from the top. I cannot keep saying them, but as the voice of the club, I will continue to perpetuate this message because this is what we believe in.’

Chelsea have also been encouraged to think about Valencia’s Unai Emery and Marcelo Bielsa of Athletic Bilbao.

John Terry and Ashley Cole, on their way back from injuries, travelled to Naples and trained in the San Paolo Stadium last night. Terry seemed confident of being fit but Villas-Boas said: ‘John is a major doubt but Ashley has more chance.

Source: DailyMail

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