Terry backs rotation system
Chelsea captain John Terry is unequivocal in his support for Rafael Benitez's rotation system if it propels the Blues 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.
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26. John Terry
The 32-year-old defender scored twice the 3-0 Barclays Premier League win at Fulham which saw last season's Champions League winners climb above Arsenal and move into pole position for the third automatic qualifying spot for next year's tournament.
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, Terry has made just 11 Premier League appearances.
Since returning from the problem sustained against Liverpool in November in January's win at Stoke, 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," added Terry, who saw David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic preferred in the centre of defence.
"If he (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 added.
"It's a must for the football club."
Who will be in charge of Chelsea next season is another burning issue at the Bridge. Reports today put Manuel Pellegrini close to the top of the odds to replace Benitez, with the Chilean having impressed at Malaga.
It has been reported that a meeting took place last week between Chelsea and Pellegrini's representative, which has led Sky Bet to shorten their odds on him becoming next manager.
Pellegrini still remains second favourite for the job, though, with Jose Mourinho the overriding favourite.
The Portuguese is expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and has long been linked with a return to Stamford Bridge. Mourinho would undoubtedly be the fans' choice, having steered Chelsea to two Barclays Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups during three years in west London up until September 2007.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck was last week asked if anyone had been ruled out and about Mourinho in particular, to which he responded: "I am completely open minded about it."
Last night's Craven Cottage clash was Chelsea's 60th match of a season which could run to 69 games if the Blues beat Basle in the Europa League last four to reach the May 15 Amsterdam final.
Benitez has insisted all his players will be key, but Luiz has demonstrated his importance in recent weeks and did so once again with the opening goal against Fulham.
Fulham began well until Luiz's wonder-strike and felt the scoreline did not reflect the game.
Another London derby against a Champions League-chasing side follows for the Cottagers, with Arsenal visiting on Saturday, but Urby Emanuelson is optimistic.
"We had our chances, we played well," the midfielder told fulhamfc.com.
"We created a lot of chances, but I think we missed a little bit of luck."