BENITEZ: OPTIONS AVAILABLE

Posted on: Wed 10 Apr 2013

Rafael Benitez is considering a couple of options to fill the void at left-back against Rubin Kazan on Thursday, with both Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand unavailable.

Cole limped out of last week's win over Manchester United with hamstring damage, while Bertrand, his understudy, missed the flight to Moscow on Wednesday with a virus.

It leaves the manager with a selection problem, with either Paulo Ferreira or youngster Nathan Ake touted as likely stand-ins, though Benitez believes there would be an alternative in the form of one of his Brazilian trio.

'David Luiz has also played as a left full-back before so maybe he can be an option,' the Spaniard said on Wednesday, addressing the media at the Luzhniki Stadium, which hosted our 2008 Champions League final defeat to United.

'I have an idea but we will train today, see how everything is, and after we will decide,' Benitez continued. 'I don't think it would be a big problem for Ake if he has to play there. He has played for us and trained with us.'

A 3-1 lead from last week's first leg at Stamford Bridge, courtesy of a Fernando Torres double and a Victor Moses strike has put us in poll position, but the manager expects a testing time on the synthetic Luzhniki pitch.

'We have a lot of respect for Rubin Kazan. We know they are a good team. For us to lose [players] is not ideal, we have to manage the situation and we have confidence we can go through,' he said.

'In terms of the game I think we know their team so they can do well, so maybe we have to react but I have confidence we can do well anyway. I don't see too many surprises.

'You have to play on a synthetic pitch and adapt to that but it will be the same for everyone.'

Finally, Benitez responded to suggestions of apathy towards this competition by John Mikel Obi, who he believes was wrongly interpreted by journalists.

'He was saying the Champions League is very important and everybody can agree with that,' he said. 'All my players know how important this competition is, and they will be really pleased if we can go through to the final and win.'