Jose Mourinho played down the omission of Fernando Torres from his Chelsea squad in the aftermath of last night's 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.
After being named in the starting line-up for the Blues weekend win over Hull City, the £50million striker found himself completely overlooked for Wednesday's encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Demba Ba was chosen to lead the Chelsea line, while Romelu Lukaku once again had to settle for a place on the bench, for the second time in the space of a week.
However, Mourinho was quick to dispel suggestions that Torres had in fact been dropped on the basis of his performance in Sunday's 2-0 victory, explaining that the decision to rest the Spaniard was purely a tactical one.
"No. The reason was in some matches I can have three strikers [in the match day squad] in some other matches I want to give the bench a different balance," he told a post-match press conference.
"This was a match I thought I might have to play [Cesar] Azpilicueta because he is very fast, and can deal with Aston Villa's counter-attack situation with [Gabby] Agbonlahor open on the left, so I wanted to have Azpilicueta on the bench."
Mourinho made just two changes to his starting XI for Chelsea's second game in the space of four days, with Juan Mata also coming in for Kevin de Bruyne, who dropped to the bench.
The Spanish midfielder was withdrawn after 65 minutes, along with the disappointing Ba, allowing summer signing Andre Schurrle and Lukaku another opportunity to impress.
Justifying his reason for making changes to his bench, the 50-year-old added: "Maybe I needed [John Obi] Mikel's experience to control my midfield with a certain style.
"I wanted options on the wings and the No.10 position. I know Mata cannot play 90 minutes at this moment so I need to have Schurrle and De Bruyne as attacking options.
"Sometimes it's possible to have two strikers on the bench. Sometimes it's not possible, so Fernando was the one who stayed out. But, at the same time, Lukaku can say he's the only one who hasn't started a game."
The Belgian striker looked a real handful during his 30-minute cameo last night, putting more pressure on Mourinho to include him in the Chelsea line-up from the start, ahead of the upcoming Premier League clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford next Monday.
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