Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has admitted that his side have missed captain John Terry during the centre-back’s recent three-game absence due to injury.
Mourinho confirmed on Friday that the defender will return for the Premier League meeting with Everton on Saturday after being sidelined with a gluteal muscle problem.
During Terry’s spell out, Chelsea have won just once, beating Newcastle United at home before drawing at struggling West Bromwich Albion and exiting the FA Cup at Manchester City in their last outing.
In those three games Mourinho’s side let in three goals, compared to the two goals conceded in Terry’s last eight appearances before his injury.
Revealing that Terry will come back into the team in place of David Luiz, who has a muscle strain, Mourinho said: “John is fit and he plays. I miss him. He’s a stable player. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
“He has this basic level of performance that gives stability to the team. Especially a team with a lot of young people in other areas. That stability is giving us a good position.
“It is important. Because now we don’t have David. If we don’t have David and John, the situation is more difficult.”
Mourinho believes that although the captaincy of a team is usually seen as a merely symbolic role, Terry’s on-field leadership makes a real difference to Chelsea.
“The captain’s armband doesn’t mean so much,” he said. “It means a voice on the pitch. I can’t control that.
“I don’t arrive at the players when they’re defending a goal far away from my position. The distances. The line where you start pressing the opponent.
“To have on the pitch some player with this kind of voice that can transmit what I need (is beneficial).”
– Courtois going nowhere –
Mourinho hopes that Luiz will be fit to return to face Galatasaray in the Champions League next week, particularly as January signings Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are cup-tied in Europe.
“It’s something in the muscle he’s feeling. He’s not ready for this game,” Mourinho said.
“We’re going to see if he’s ready for the next one. The next is Champions League and he has to play in Champions League as Matic and Salah can’t play Champions League.
“We need him, if possible, to be ready for Galatasaray.”
Victory over Everton will maintain Chelsea’s standing at the top of the Premier League table, although Mourinho still refuses to install his side as title favourites.
“The view is the same and the view is that we can win the next match. It is a very difficult match and we can win that,” he said.
“The table is there. You can look at the table and see how it is. We are top of the league, but can be second if Manchester City win their game in hand.
“If we win tomorrow (Saturday), we keep the same position: top of the league depending on Manchester City’s results. We’re going to try to do that.
“If we can, it’s a good weekend for us. If we lose points at home, it’s never good.”
Mourinho also dismissed suggestions that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season.
The Belgium international is in his third season on loan at Atletico Madrid, who are keen to extend his stay, while media reports in Spain suggest Courtois is also a target for Real Madrid.
But Mourinho said: “We won’t struggle to keep him. He has two more years of contract.”
Courtois is due back at Stamford Bridge in June to challenge Petr Cech for the number one spot, but Mourinho conceded that he can offer the 21-year-old no guarantees that he will play.
“I don’t need to give assurances to any player,” he said. “A player that has a contract with Chelsea, has a contract with Chelsea.” (AFP).