Villas-Boas backs Cahill and Luiz
Under-fire Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is confident Gary Cahill and David Luiz can form a solid defensive partnership during the absence of influential captain John Terry (right).
Villas-Boas' position has come under intense scrutiny over the last few weeks after his team dropped to fifth in the Premier League and edged close to a Champions League exit after a 3-1 defeat against Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday night.
To make matters worse for the Portuguese, he will now be without Terry for up to six weeks after he aggravated a long-standing knee injury.
With Jose Bosingwa also sidelined, Villas-Boas will have no other option than to put his faith in new signing Cahill and the erratic Luiz at the back during a period that is likely to determine whether the 34-year-old becomes the sixth manager to be fired by owner Roman Abramovich.
The early signs do not look good.
The team have conceded seven goals during the three games in which Cahill and Luiz have started together in the centre of defence, but Villas-Boas has faith in the duo.
"At the moment we have a new partnership that we are trying to fine-tune to be more stable at the back, like we were in January," Villas-Boas said.
"It's a new partnership and you have to get used to the person next to you."
Cahill, who was set to line up against his old club Bolton today, has told his manager not to expect too much too quickly, however.
"There have been changes made so it's not something that will click right into place straight away," Cahill said.
"We have had some sticky results of late and I have been plonked straight in the middle of it all so it's been difficult, but the more work we do on the training ground the better it will be."
Cahill revealed the squad are desperate to bounce back from the midweek loss. He said: "When you have results like (the one in Naples) sometimes the best thing you can hope for is fixture straight after."