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Chelsea Vs Aston Villa, Sun 2 Jan 2011

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Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has a defensive quandary ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League game with Aston Villa.

Branislav Ivanovic is suspended, meaning Ancelotti must put his faith in teenager Jeffrey Bruma.

John Obi Mikel is set to miss out again with a knee injury, Daniel Sturridge (knee) could be fit after returning to training, while Yury Zhirkov (calf), Alex (knee), and Yossi Benayoun (Achilles) remain sidelined.

Despite having made only eight first-team appearances and just two starts since joining Chelsea from Feyenoord in 2007, Bruma has been preferred to Paulo Ferreira for the champions' first match of 2011.

Right-back Ferreira played as a makeshift centre-half when John Terry and Alex were injured for November's game with Sunderland.

But the move backfired spectacularly as Chelsea were crushed 3-0, their biggest home defeat since 2002.

Ancelotti is clearly unwilling to risk a repeat against Villa, with his players' confidence still fragile after Wednesday's ugly 1-0 win over Bolton ended the Blues' worst league run for 11 years.

And while Bruma may be a rookie, he is highly rated by both club and country, making his full Holland debut against Ukraine this summer and recently signing a new four-year contract at Stamford Bridge.

"It is the time that we can use Bruma," Ancelotti told Chelsea TV.

"He is a young player who is a very good defender. He has a lot of ability, he has played some games and, in this time, he is improving.

"He works very closely with John Terry, Ivanovic and Alex and it is the time to put him in. I am sure that he will do his best."

Bruma has already started in both the Carling Cup and Champions League this season and Ancelotti has backed captain Terry to guide him through his full Premier League debut.

"For Bruma, it will be fantastic support to have Terry alongside," said the Italian.

"He trained very well, he knows how he has to move but, with John Terry, it will be easier to move."

Aston Villa will be boosted by the return of playmaker Ashley Young and striker Emile Heskey.

Young has returned to training after missing the last two games with the knee problem suffered in the home success against West Brom.

Heskey is also available after recovering from the twisted ankle sustained in the Boxing Day defeat against Tottenham at Villa Park.

But right-back Luke Young is again likely to be ruled out with the hip and groin setback which has troubled him since the 3-0 reversal at Liverpool.

Villa will be looking to avenge a 7-1 mauling in the corresponding game last season.

Gerard Houllier insists he has the trust in the Aston Villa players to revive their season even though they are not used to being involved in a relegation battle.

Villa have won only three of 14 league encounters under Houllier as alleged bust-ups with several senior players and a lengthy injury list have taken their toll.

It is in sharp contrast to three successive top six finishes under Martin O'Neill.

Houllier is refusing to reveal why he believes Villa's fortunes have declined so sharply in 12 months but he has the belief in his present squad to climb clear of danger.

Houllier said: "With the league position we are in, there is obviously a danger of relegation.

"It is even more so because the players finished in a higher position last season.

"You have to be aware that we have to look at the drop zone more than up front at the moment.

"But the best way to pick up is to react and get back into winning ways.

"Sometimes you get bumps and it is rocky at the moment for many reasons but we will get through it.

"At some stage you know who you can go to war with and who you can't go with.

"But we are not at this stage yet."

Houllier added: "The team needs more to know that I've got faith in them. I trust them, they are good players, and they haven't changed.

"They are still good players.

"When you have a bad spell, it is not down to one man. It is sometimes down to several factors.

"We are aware we are going through a difficult period. I am convinced we will turn that over at some stage."

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