Chelsea captain John Terry has recovered from an ankle injury and is fit to face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, head coach Antonio Conte has confirmed.
Terry has been sidelined for more than a month since straining ankle ligaments in the final minute of Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, despite an initial club estimate that he would only miss around 10 days.
A kick on the ankle during a practice match before Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat against Arsenal delayed the 35-year-old’s recovery, but Conte revealed on Friday that his captain is available after returning to training at Cobham this week.
“John is in good fitness, good shape,” Conte said. “He trained with the team.
“He solved this problem with his ankle. This week he trained really well. He’s available for the game. Terry is our captain, an important player.”
Willian and Oscar also returned to Chelsea training this week, after being granted compassionate leave to fly to Brazil following family bereavements before Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Leicester City, though Conte says he is yet to make a final decision on whether to include either in his squad.
“Willian came back on Thursday, in the morning, and then had two training sessions with us,” Conte added. “But in this situation it’s very important to consider all aspects. I spoke also with the player.
“Me, the player, the club… we are sorry for him and this situation. Also for Oscar. He flew to Brazil after the death of his grandfather.
“It’s important to consider all the aspects. Then you make the right decision. I have also [Saturday] to see the situation. But, I repeat, it’s important now that we support [Willian]: me, the players, the club. We have to support his family. When you lose your mother, it’s always a bad thing.”
Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic missed the Leicester City win with knocks picked up during the international break, and Conte revealed that he will be without both men again when United visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“Cesc had an injury, a small muscular injury in a part of his body that is very strange,” Conte explained. “It’s the thigh, but in a zone that is not a part of the muscle that normally gets injured. So we must wait until the player is well to come back. But I hope he comes back very soon.
“Also Ivanovic is injured, who came back with a muscular injury from the international break. He is recovering and I hope to have the whole squad very soon, and then to have the problem to make a decision.”
The return of Jose Mourinho and United to Stamford Bridge represents the biggest test Conte has faced since Chelsea’s comprehensive defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal, and the Italian has warned his players that he expects to see a significant improvement this time.
“In the last game we beat a good team who, last season, won the title,” Conte said. “This was important. But this Sunday we are up against another great team.
“I want to see progress. I want to see progress compared to Liverpool and Arsenal. But I am confident about this because I saw fantastic commitment this week.”