November 10, 2012
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No guarantees for 'fantastic' Terry

Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo hailed the European champions' captain John Terry as a "fantastic" player today but insisted not even the centre-half was guaranteed a first-team place.

Di Matteo surprised many observers by leaving Terry on the bench for Chelsea's dramatic midweek Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea insisted this was simply down to a lack of match fitness following the 31-year-old's four-game domestic ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand.

Yet there have been previous occasions where Terry was pitched straight back into a major match after injury or suspension.

However, former Chelsea and Italy midfielder di Matteo insisted Terry's influence was not on the wane, although he would have to fight for his place.

"He's certainly a fantastic player for us and he will continue to be so and continue to be our captain and our leader when he plays," said di Matteo.

But di Matteo added: "I don't think anybody's guaranteed a starting place. They all have to work and be fighting for their place in the team.

"We've got a lot of competition in the team and they're all internationals. We've got an England international playing or a Brazil international or a Serbia international.

"So, all of them are international players that have a lot of quality and they are at a very high level."

With Chelsea facing another hectic schedule, di Matteo said squad rotation was all but inevitable.

"To play every three or four days is very tough and demanding for everybody," he added. "And while we've got the options to change and bring in fresh players with the quality that we have in our squad, I think it's right to do so.

"Otherwise, we'll hit the wall at some point."



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