RAFAEL Benitez says he was forced into picking the under-strength side that slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Southampton.
The interim boss (pictured) made a series of changes in naming a team at St Mary's that lacked several first team names, and drew heavily from those usually thought of as squad players.
Benitez said: “In the first half we didn't have the intensity that we were expecting.
“We improved a lot in the second half: more chances. But still we didn't make the right decisions in the final third. But at least we were there and we had the chances.
“I think that we have to manage the squad. We don't have too many options in some positions, so we have to use the players that we had to use.
“We have to approach each game and make it the most important. We thought that with these players we could be fine.
“It wasn't enough in the first half; it was much better in the second half, but still not enough to win the game. “[Gary] Cahill and [Juan] Mata – they couldn't pay. So it was not a question that we were resting these players. You have one or two players, and you have to manage the squad.”
Benitez said Mata could return for Monday's FA Cup visit of Manchester United, but that Cahill would be unlikely to feature.