Terry not untouchable - Di Matteo
Soccer:Roberto Di Matteo today insisted John Terry was still Chelsea’s “captain and leader” but warned that did not make the defender immune from his squad rotation policy.Di Matteo sprang a huge surprise on Wednesday night by leaving Terry on the bench for the Blues’ Champions League victory over Shakhtar Donetsk, arguably the first truly big game their skipper had missed when fit and available for almost a decade.
The official explanation was a lack of match fitness after the 31-year-old was limited to only one competitive outing in a month due to his domestic four-match racism ban.
Yet Terry had been thrown back into the deep end after returning from injury and suspension on plenty of occasions in the past, leading some to suggest his omission against Shakhtar might have marked the beginning of the end of his time at the club.
But Di Matteo said today: “He’s certainly a fantastic player for us and he will continue to be so and continue to be our captain and our leader when he plays.”
However, it is precisely how often that is which is now far from a certainty. “I don’t think anybody’s guaranteed a starting place,” Di Matteo said. “They all have to work and be fighting for their place in the team.”
He added: “We’ve got a lot of competition in the team and they’re all internationals. We’ve got an England international playing or a Brazil international, or a Serbia international. So, all of them are international players that have a lot of quality and they are at a very high level.”