Benitez rues busy schedule ahead of Chelsea’s Europa League clash

The Spaniard may opt to rotate his squad from the side that clawed back an FA Cup replay at Old Trafford but will not be underestimating the calibre of Steaua Bucharest
Rafael Benitez is looking for his side to bounce back from their disappointing away defeat to Steaua Bucharest last week but admits Chelsea’s packed schedule is making team selection a tricky task.

Chelsea were narrowly edged out 1-0 in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie on Thursday and Benitez will look to utilise the home advantage to pip the Romanians to a quarter-final berth at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening.

But with progression will come more game time, and when stacked on top of their FA Cup replay clash with Manchester United on April 1, Benitez admits that an increasingly bloated schedule is providing him with a few headaches.

“I can do nothing about that so I must concentrate on my job and try to do my best preparing the team for every competition,” he told reporters.

“It is difficult. Some players like centre-backs and goalkeepers can play more games. Wingers, full-backs, strikers, it is more difficult because of the intensity of their runs.

"It depends on the players. If you have a player who is fit and recovers quickly it is easier than someone who is older and needs more time. You have to analyse everything and decide what to do."

But ahead of the side’s crunch clash against Steaua, Benitez insists that he will field as strong a side as it takes to progress to the quarter-finals.

“The next game is the priority. I have to pick the team for the next game and ensure it's a very competitive team for each competition,” he added.

“Apart from Oriol Romeu, the others are available so we can decide what we want to do. Obviously Demba Ba cannot play.

"We are in the Europa League and will try to do our best. If you progress it is a good competition but you have to carry on until the end."

And Benitez paid tribute to the club's Romanian visitors, adding: "The scouts told us to be careful, it's a good team and we knew it would be tough.

"We will see if we can do our game at Stamford Bridge, see if they can cope with the intensity, but we have a lot of respect because it's a very good team."