Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has defended his team selection ahead of his side's crushing 3-1 defeat to Napoli that leaves their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.

The 24-year-old opted to leave out experienced heads Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien, and with John Terry also missing through injury, The Blues floundered in Naples.

However, coming a week after Villas-Boas revealed many of his players weren't behind him, the omissions drives another steak through Chelsea's ranks.

"The decision was made today," he said.

"Ashley had two days training and we decided to start with Bosingwa, a very similar team to the one that played against Man United with Ramires in for Essien and Didier for Fernando in a 4-2-3-1.

"Ashley was a difficult decision taken yesterday. I am sure from tomorrow's training onwards he will continue to fight for his position as he normally does. It's his position to take and nothing else.

"[Lampard and Essien] was technical decisions. In the end it would be fantastic if we win the game, any explanation is useless given the result of the game," he added.

"Those on the pitch have been doing magnificently well and that's why the choice was taken. We can continue to count on these players to help the team. They will be up for selection like any other time.

"We had a conversation, with Ashley and Frank. Normally through the players they are and the experience they have, they felt they could help the team which is perfectly understandable.

"Ashley had the opportunity to come on through Bosingwa's injury and Lamps later on in the game. They were disappointed but it's a decision they have to accept and we move on."

Ezequiel Lavezzi's double and Edinson Cavani's unorthodox finish gives the Serie 'A' side the upper hand going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge, despite Juan Mata's volleyed opener.

The west Londoners require a win by two or more goals in the return fixture in three weeks time, and despite only three teams having overturned a two-goal deficit from the first leg in a Champions League knock-out tie, Villas-Boas is upbeat over his side's chances in the return fixture.

"There was balance until we conceded the two goals. Napoli were well motivated and we suffered two goals we should not have," he added.

"In my opinion we can be confident because we created chances and if we do the same in the return match we have all possibilities to go through."

Along with the absence of skipper Terry, Chelsea are also likely to be without Jose Bosingwa, who limped off with a hamstring problem, while Raul Meirles will also miss out after picking up his third yellow card of the competition in Naples.

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