CHELSEA manager Antonio Conte will not automatically restore John Terry to the starting 11 even if Gary Cahill is unable to play in this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final.
Cahill is a doubt for the game at Wembley on Saturday after being taken ill during the week, which was revealed on Friday to be down to gastroenteritis, leaving club captain Terry as seemingly the obvious choice to step in.
Conte however refused to confirm who would partner David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta in central defence against Tottenham Hotspur should Cahill be unavailable.
The Chelsea boss told a press conference on Friday: ‘This is a semi-final and in this season we try to have in every position two options – the player that usually players and another.
‘When John plays it is more central, but that is David Luiz. I have to think about the right solution.’
Chelsea’s other options in central defence could be Kurt Zouma, or Nathan Ake, who is still yet to play for the first team after being recalled from his loan spell at Bournemouth in January.
Terry this week confirmed his extremely successful spell at Chelsea will come to an end this summer and his contract will not be extended, and Conte praised the ex-England international for helping his settle in London.
He said: ‘I am repeating that John, for me in this first season, is very important. He is helping me on and off the pitch.
‘He is a great captain, the problem is that John wants to play regularly and for this reason we have to respect his decision. I was a footballer and when you arrive in this point of your career, and your body tells you to continue it is right to. We have to respect his decision.
‘If you ask me if next season it is a serious loss, yes, I think so. I am seeing what John is doing this season in the changing room. We are building a foundation and he is important to this.’