Chelsea interim manager Roberto di Matteo has sprung to the defence of captain John Terry after questions were asked about the England defender’s form.
The centre-back endured a torrid time in last night’s 4-1 defeat at Anfield with Liverpool striker Andy Carroll dominating him for 90 minutes.
Terry, who was made to look foolish by a couple of nutmegs by both the England international and Luis Suarez, did not help himself with an untimely slip to allow Jordan Henderson to race through unchallenged and score the second, while he also lost Carroll at a corner for the third goal.
Suggestions have also emerged today the 31-year-old may miss out on a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad for this summer’s European Championships and Terry, suspended for next week’s Champions League final, has only one match left to persuade the new England boss otherwise.
But Di Matteo has given his full backing to Terry.
“John has been magnificent for us,” said the Italian.
“He has been playing all the games, he has been a leader and everything you want in a captain.”
The Champions League final against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena a week on Saturday is now Chelsea’s sole focus as defeat at Anfield ended their slim hopes of finishing in the top four.
But with Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires all suspended for the season-ending finale Di Matteo admits he has some difficult selection decisions to make.
The Italian made eight changes for the Liverpool game from the side that beat the Reds in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday and none of the fringe players put up a case for their inclusion in Munich.
Central defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz missed the match through injury and Di Matteo is still unsure as to whether either or both will be fit.
“We are working towards their fitness and trying to get them back as soon as we can, but I can’t answer the question,” he said.
“They were not available for Liverpool so we will have to see.
“We have injuries, we had five players unavailable and we need to see how the players are after the game as well,” he said.
“We will check on their progress and how they will develop.
“I would like to have everyone available.
“I will have to think about the team as we have those suspensions.
“I have to think about how they play and which players fit best into our set-up for the final.”
Michael Essien would have been one of the players hoping to get a place in midfield for Munich but after three knee operations he has looked a shadow of his former self and that was all-too evident at Anfield.
“Because he has been out for a long time it takes a bit of time to get back into the rhythm,” added Di Matteo.
“Next season, with a full pre-season, he will start to see some fine performances.”