Andre Villas-Boas plans a striker clearout in January window

The manager expects several of the club's high-earning and underperforming forwards to leave Stamford Bridge next month.

Didier Drogba, left, was celebrating scoring Chelsea's first goal on Saturday, but his days at Stamford Bridge may be numbered.
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Andre Villas-Boas is planning a partial clear out of the club's strikers when the transfer window opens next month.

The Chelsea manager is readying for the departure of either Nicolas Anelka or Didier Drogba with Salomon Kalou also being encouraged to move elsewhere.

Anelka was excluded from first-team training last week along with Brazil central defender Alex, who the club are also keen to offload. Villas-Boas says that the club has accepted transfer requests from both.

"The conversation was fair and direct with the players," he said. "They are top professionals and their professionalism and integrity is never in question, but on recent results and form we have decided to try to get the group together and we have decided to assign different training times for them. The transfer requests were accepted but it doesn't mean it will happen, and if it doesn't happen they will return to full training."

Despite possessing the Premier League's most expensive collection of centre forwards in terms of accumulated transfer fees and salaries, Chelsea have had little consistency of selection in the position this season and questionable returns from most of them. Frank Lampard, who has also been in and out of Villas-Boas' side was the team's top scorer entering the weekend's fixture with six League goals.

Though Daniel Sturridge surpassed that figure with a goal in yesterday's 3-0 win at Newcastle United, the 22-year-old has failed to convince Villas-Boas when used at the point of Chelsea's attack and had been told by the manager that he will continue to be employed primarily on the right wing. Fernando Torres' £50million (Dh287.5m) purchase price made him the preferred option at centre forward, but the Spaniard's performances have been so poor Villas-Boas has taken to leaving the player on the sidelines while discussing how to reinvigorate him.

There has been sparse appetite for blooding Romelu Lukaku, acquired for a fee that can rise to over £15m last summer but limited to just three substitute appearances in the league and three League Cup ties in which the teenage Belgian has failed to score. Villas-Boas has, however, publicly ruled out a January loan

Anelka and Kalou have been become peripheral figures under the Portuguese coach, afforded just three and two Premier League starts respectively as they are ushered towards the exit door. Both the Frenchman and the Ivorian are out of contract at the end of the season and Chelsea would be happy to realise any kind of fee for them in next month's window.

Drogba's situation is more complex. Sounded out by several significant European clubs in the last window, including Real Madrid, he asked Villas-Boas how the new Chelsea intended to use him this season. Villas-Boas told him he was a declining force and would not have a guaranteed starting berth in his team, but that he would also not be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge.

With the club attempting to control its salary commitments, Drogba was subsequently offered only a single year's extension when discussions tool place following the end of the summer transfer window. The terms were not acceptable to the striker who is seeking a two-season deal.

He remains, however, an extremely popular figure at the club. He has had an unusually strong relationship with Roman Abramovich, who personally intervened to improve the terms of the Ivorian's current contract, also topping up Drogba's personal commitment to redirect 100 percent of his commercial income to charity work. His efforts to support education and health in Africa and his interventions in the Ivory Coast's civil wars were recognised when he was received a Humanitarian in Sport Award from the Beyond Sport organisation.

Drogba will turn 34 in March but such has been his level of performance with Chelsea he has no shortage of suitors. Harry Redknapp had joined AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani in expressing a desire to sign him on loan or an end-of-season free transfer and there have been potentially lucrative proposals from Russia, the Middle East and Major League Soccer.