Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has denied reports of a bust-up with Ashley Cole.
The full-back was reported to have clashed with Villas-Boas ahead of Tuesday’s game against Napoli, for which he was left out of the starting line-up along with Frank Lampard and Michael Essien.
Cole was said to have told his under-pressure boss that he didn’t feel he could win trophies because of the Portuguese’s tactics.
“It’s not true,” insisted Villas-Boas, who is reported to be planning to offload a number of the club’s senior players in the summer.
Asked whether his players backed him, he said: “You don’t expect them to be jumping up and down with excitement when the manager doesn’t use them.
“The club is more important than any individual. Full backing, part backing or whatever backing – it doesn’t matter.”
Lampard, who has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, is deeply unhappy at being overlooked for much of this season.
Like Essien, he had to wait until the 70th minute to be introduced in Naples, where Chelsea’s 3-1 first-leg defeat left their Champions League future hanging in the balance.
“In the end it is the decision of the manager and Frank accepts that,” said Villas-Boas.
“Of course it is difficult for him. It is a difficult decision to take, but it is always taken in the best interests of the team.
“Sometimes whatever you say to players is not enough to convince them your choice is the right one.
“I don’t have any regrets about team selection. It was what I felt was completely right. The team was well set up.”