Chelsea may shuffle pack for visit to Liverpool despite John Terry's double

Chelsea boss unswayed by defender's double in victory against Fulham as he looks to cement Blues' bid for top-four finish with win at Liverpool

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 5:18am


Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has told captain John Terry that he is not guaranteed to start against Liverpool on Sunday despite him scoring twice in the 3-0 win at Fulham.

Terry headed his brace of goals after centre-back partner David Luiz's 35-yard screamer, as the Blues moved back to third in the table by leapfrogging Arsenal on Wednesday night.

The players have to be ready. We have eight or nine games to play, and everyone has to be on his toes and ready to perform.

Brazil defender Luiz opened the floodgates when he drilled in his long-range shot past Mark Scharwzer in the 30th minute, before Terry converted in the 42nd and 71st minutes. But Benitez said Terry, who sat on the bench as Chelsea were defeated 2-1 in their FA Cup semi-final by Manchester City at Wembley last Sunday, could still be subject to squad rotation at Anfield.

"He has to be happy scoring goals," said Benitez. "It's good for him and the team. I'm really pleased it was a good performance. I prefer these problems [when picking the team]".

"The players have to be ready. We have eight or nine games to play, and everyone has to be on his toes and ready to perform.

"We have to stay in the top three, and we have the Europa League as well. We want to compete in both competitions. They know the most important thing is the team is winning. I'm really pleased with [Terry's] performance, but the team has to be winning."

Benitez was impressed with the way his team bounced back from the defeat against City, despite a gruelling schedule of matches in recent weeks.

"We have been playing two games a week for four or five months, so it's not easy keeping the players focused, concentrated and not tired," he said.

"We have to keep them ready for every game. Every player wants to play every game, but they have to realise they can't do that and be 100 per cent in each game [they do play]."

A victory for Chelsea on Benitez's return to Liverpool on Sunday could further cement the Blues' standing in the top four as they look to qualify for next season's Champions League.

"After, I will go home," added the Spaniard. "My family have been living there for six years, and I'm really pleased to be going there to see old friends.

"I want to win [at Liverpool]. Afterwards, if they can win all their games, that will be fantastic. I will be professional. I want to win that game."

Chelsea are just one point ahead of fourth-placed Arsenal and three ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. And Benitez expects the top-four battle to go down to the wire. "I said a long time ago that the race for the top four would go until the end of the season. It'll be like this," he said.

Fulham remain on 40 points in 10th place, but their manager Martin Jol admits that only clinching a Europa League spot would have represented a successful season for him.

"If you want to achieve something, you have to get into Europe, and we can't," he said.

"We have to stay out of trouble, and we have a heavy schedule. Hopefully we can register another eight or nine points."