LONDON (AFP) – John Terry insists he is willing to fight for his place at Chelsea and would even accept a place on the bench if it helps the team get their spluttering campaign back on track.
After battling with a knee injury for three months, Terry made just his third start under interim manager Rafael Benitez in Sunday’s 4-0 FA Cup fourth round replay win over Brentford.
The 32-year-old, who marked his return by scoring the fourth goal against Brentford, had been an unused substitute for a fifth time under Benitez in last week’s Europa League win at Sparta Prague, prompting reports of a rift with the Spaniard.
Terry played down those suggestions and claimed that, as Chelsea’s captain, it is his duty to sacrifice himself for the good of the team and he is adamant he has no qualms about sitting on the bench if other defenders are in better form.
“It is not about Rafa, me or Frank Lampard, it is not about anybody,” said Terry.
“It is about this football club winning games and if we are doing that, the fans are happy. That’s all they want to see.
“If that’s with me in the side, great. If not, then I will be their biggest supporter and I’ll sit there and support the team like the fans will.
“The most frustrating thing was that when Rafa came in, I wasn’t fit and I wasn’t able to impress him and show what I am about.
“I have got a bit of catching up to do. He has not seen me at 100 per cent.
“I still need a couple of games, that is clear. But if I am called upon all I can do is come in and play well. There is no rift.”
Terry can count on the support of Chelsea’s fans as he bids to convince Benitez of his worthy, but in contrast the Spaniard faces an almost impossible struggle to win over the Blues faithful due to his time with Liverpool.
Asked what Benitez needed to do to gain more backing, Terry said: “If you are losing games, the pressure is on the manager.
“He has to take responsibility because he is the one who picks the team. So if we are not winning, as with all managers, it falls on his head, unfortunately.
“But if we are winning games, and hopefully we can do that, it takes the pressure off him.”
Terry hopes to play his part in the season run-in, but knows he cannot demand a place in the side, given the form of Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic.
“I’m not silly,” Terry added. “I’ve been out for four months – the other two guys have been playing really well, so it is going to be difficult for me to get back in.
“Naturally I want to play games; the manager doesn’t need to ask me that question to know what answer he is going to get.
“I am not one to go in and knock the manager’s door down. I respect the other players.
“I have to fight for my place, the same as everyone. I think it is important that comes across from me directly.
“When you are playing for 10 years you don’t just get selected. You have to play well, train well and impress managers.”