Benitez set to shuffle pack
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez is expected to shuffle his pack once again when the Blues face Manchester United in their FA Cup quarter-final replay at Stamford Bridge on Easter Monday.
The Spaniard made seven changes to his starting line-up ahead of their 2-1 defeat at Southampton on Saturday and will look to rotate once more with one eye on the Europa League tie with Rubin Kazan on Thursday.
Juan Mata is likely to return after missing the loss at Southampton through illness but Benitez revealed defender Gary Cahill (knee) is still a major doubt.
Chelsea have already played 54 games this season and the Blues' players are no strangers to the rigours of playing midweek games off the back of league fixtures.
But Benitez feels the proximity of the FA Cup replay against United - with the winners to face Manchester City in a Wembley semi-final - makes for difficult preparation.
"This one is so close," he said. "48 hours, less than 48 hours, you have to make decisions. If you have three days, four days you can manage in a different way. But two days between games is not easy.
"It (the performance against United) has to be good. Everybody knows this is a massive game against a very good side in a massive competition. It has to be positive for the players."
Sir Alex Ferguson is set to ring the changes for Manchester United.
Rafael (groin) looks sure to miss out after picking up a knock in Saturday's Barclays Premier League success at Sunderland.
Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Ryan Giggs were all rested at the weekend with the cup tie in mind, and Patrice Evra can also expect a recall.
Manchester City await the victors in the stand-out semi-final, given Premier League strugglers Wigan and Championship outfit Millwall contest the other.
Not that Inited skipper Nemanja Vidic is particularly enthused by that prospect, which would mean successive encounters with their Manchester rivals, who head to Old Trafford in league combat on April 8.
"I would prefer to have a semi-final against Blackpool," said Vidic.
"I want to win the trophy. That is more important than who we play against.
"Obviously City are in the semi-final. That would mean one more step towards a trophy. But first it is Chelsea."