Torres may be benched despite first Chelsea goal

LONDON, April 24, 2011 (AFP) - Fernando Torres has been warned he is not guaranteed a starting spot despite finally scoring his first Chelsea goal in the 3-0 victory over West Ham.

Torres netted in the 84th minute, 10 minutes after he appeared as a second-half substitute to end a 733-minute goal-drought in his 14th appearance for the club he joined in January.

AFP - Torres (L) vies with West Ham's defender Jonathan Spector (R) during the game

Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti admitted the goal came as a relief and believes it will give the striker the confidence to finally kick-start his Stamford Bridge career following his British record £50 million move from Liverpool.

But with Didier Drogba - Ancelotti's first-choice striker in the last three games - also hitting an impressive vein of form, the manager has yet to decide whether to pair the duo against Tottenham next weekend.

The two strikers have failed to gel when they have played together and Torres's goal came after he replaced the Ivorian.

Ancelotti believes the displays of the two players means he must spend the week working on a system that will bring out the best of both forwards.

"Considering the performance of Didier and considering Fernando scored, we have to try and put them both together," said the Italian.

"We have one week to train to try. They don't have a problem to play together. Didier is now moving very well, not just in the box but also outside the box to help his team-mates. For this reason I think they can play together.

"I don't want to guarantee this (that Torres will start) but I want to try. We have one week training and then I will decide if they can play together."

Ancelotti couldn't disguise his relief at the goal that came after Frank Lampard had given Chelsea a 44th-minute lead in conditions made difficult by heavy downpours.

"It was the moment everyone wanted," he added. "We need to move on now and Fernando will be better now his difficult moment has gone.

"Obviously it was a big moment for him. He wanted to score and in the next game he will be better. It was good movement, fantastic shot, a good, good goal. He did well to adjust so quickly when the ball held up in the puddle.

"I never lost faith in his ability. I said we needed patience while he got used to his new teammates."

Florent Malouda completed the win in added time as Chelsea stayed six points behind leaders Manchester United with four games remaining.

The manager fears, however, his side will run out of games in their bid to retain the title.

"We have less possibility because we have one game less, just four games, and the gap is still the same," he said. "We have to keep trying and hope we can close the gap."

The only downside for Chelsea was an injury to midfielder Michael Essien but Ancelotti insisted the midfielder had not suffered another knee injury.

"Michael Essien has hurt a muscle, not his knee, but we will have wait to check him," he said.

West Ham manager Avram Grant believes his side can still stay up despite falling to the foot of the table, two points from safety.

"In our position we need to score from every half-chance but we couldn't do that. I think the players are less relaxed because of our position," said the former Chelsea boss.

"But I think I can be proud of the players for their performance. We were without Scott Parker, the player of the year and Matthew Upson, but we played well.

"I think we will stay in this division. The team you saw today is a good team. We are two points from safety and we can still get out of this."

Midfielder Mark Noble could miss the rest of the campaign with a knee injury after being stretchered off.

"Mark Noble has a knee injury," said Grant. "It could be serious. He could be out for the rest of the season."

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