Thursday Kickoff: Benitez nixes Chelsea link, Tevez back in two weeks and more

Thursday Kickoff: Benitez nixes Chelsea link, Tevez back in two weeks and more

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Thursday Kickoff: Benitez nixes Chelsea link, Tevez back in two weeks and more

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As Chelsea's season turned from bad to worse in Naples on Tuesday, the rumor mill kicked into high-gear with whisperings manager Andres Villas-Boas could be on his way out.

The name that rose quickly to the top was former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager Rafael Benitez. The manager's agent, Manuel García Quilón, has denied reports that his client has been contacted by the West London club. Benitez led Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League title and has made public his desire to return to England.

Chelsea, for their part, have stood firm behind their young manager despite the rumors. Owner Roman Abramovich has given AVB assurances that he is in the job for the long haul but turmoil behind the scenes threatens to undermine his credibility.

The next month will be crucial for Villas-Boas' future at Stamford Bridge as the race for fourth place heats up and decisive games in the FA Cup and Champions League loom.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday

TEVEZ TO RETURN TO ACTION

After finally issuing a formal apology and returning from a three-month vacation in Argentina, Carlos Tevez is likely to wear the light-blue of Manchester City again. 

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini accepted the striker's apology and said he should be available for selection "in the next two or three weeks" if he's fit. The Italian manager will meet with Tevez on Thursday.

CAMPBELL EARNS ENGLAND CALL UP

Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell was the surprise inclusion in a youthful England squad called up to face the Netherlands. Former stalwarts Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard were left out of the side while Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will captain England.

This will be the first game with interim manager Stuart Pearce at the helm following Fabio Capello's sudden resignation earlier this month. Pearce is unlikely to take the England squad to this summer's European Championships but today's announcement is a clear picture of what the squad might look like. 

PORTO TO PETITION UEFA OVER HULK CHANTS

Porto are on their way out of the Europa League after yesterday's 4-0 thrashing by Manchester City but the 2011 champions aren't going quietly. The Portuguese side will petition UEFA over chants made by City fans.

During the later stages of the game, Porto star Hulk was subjected to chants of "You're not Incredible" from the home fans. Manchester City are reportedly bewildered by the complaint, assuming the chants were a good-natured joke.

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What do you think of today's stories? Do you believe Benitez when he says there's no contact between him and Chelsea? Will Tevez make an impact when he returns? Do you find the Porto compaint ridiculous or justified?

Share your thoughts below.

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