John Terry is unequivocal in his support for Rafa Benitez’s rotation system if it propels Chelsea back into the Champions League, but the defender insists he is ready, willing and able to play up to three times a week if required.
The 32-year-old scored twice in last night’s 3-0 win at Fulham in the Premier League, which saw the reigning European champions climb above Arsenal and move into pole position for the third automatic qualifying spot for next year’s Champions League.
Terry, who was an unused substitute in last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City, said:
“I accept the rotation system completely. I can definitely play twice a week, three games a week if need be. I’m fit, I’m training every day and have done for the last three months.
“I just want to set the record straight: I’m available, but at the same time, if the manager chooses not to pick me and decides to go with the others, that’s not a problem.
“I’m Chelsea through and through and I want nothing more than to get Champions League football. If that means me playing, great. If not I’ll be the biggest supporter in the dressing room.”
Terry has been synonymous with Chelsea’s decade of success under owner Roman Abramovich, but is no longer the first name on the team sheet. In a season disrupted by a knee injury, the Blues captain has made just 11 Premier League appearances.
Since returning from the problem sustained against Liverpool in November in January’s win at Stoke City, Terry has made 11 starts, two substitute appearances and been left unused on the bench on 11 occasions. One of those was at Wembley on Sunday, which came as a surprise in some quarters, even though Terry had played 90 minutes in Moscow three days earlier.
“I’ve not got a problem with the manager choosing other players in front of me,” insisted Terry, who saw David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic preferred in the centre of defence. “If [Benitez] decides that’s his favourite pair, so be it. It’s down to me to work hard and maybe prove him wrong.
“With Gaz (Gary Cahill, who has had a knee injury) coming back now as well, I don’t know where that puts me in the pecking order, but all I can do is train hard, work hard and when I do get a chance, play well. There’s no complaints. If the manager’s straight with me and tells me, that’s totally fine.”
Five of Terry’s starts in 2013 have come in the Europa League and three in the FA Cup, but now Chelsea are challenging on just two fronts, with one major goal.
“We’re in the semi-finals of the Europa League, but realistically we want to be playing Champions League football,” Terry said. “It’s a must for the football club.”