Grant: Terry wants to play

CHELSEA MANAGER Avram Grant is still undecided whether to risk John Terry in tonight’s Champions League clash at the Mestalla Stadium.

Terry underwent surgery on Sunday after suffering a broken cheekbone during Saturday’s Premier League draw with Fulham and is the chief injury doubt ahead of the Group B encounter in Spain.

Terry took part in team training at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium last night wearing a face mask, but Chelsea will wait before making a decision on whether their skipper will be fit to play in 24 hours’ time.

“John Terry wants to play which is very good. Now we need to wait for training and then we will speak with the medical department and decide,” said Grant. “But he wants to play, which is good for us.”

Blues winger Joe Cole believes it would be blow to lose Terry for the game, which will see Chelsea return to the ground where they won 2-1 to progress through to last season’s semi-finals of this competition.

“John Terry is very important, he is our captain on and off the pitch. He’s our leader. He was operated on the other night and he wants to play,” said Cole of his fellow England international.

Terry’s value as a defender has also been noted by opponents Valencia, with the Spanish side’s striker David Villa dubbing his would-be marker one of the world’s leading – and bravest – stoppers.

“After the blow that he received on Saturday, there are few players in the world who could play, but he is one of them,” said Spain ace Villa. “We know that if he is not there, there will be someone else with similar characteristics, although he is one of the best in his position.”

Aside from Terry, Chelsea could also call on Michael Essien tonight. The Ghanaian midfielder, whose late strike earned Chelsea that quarter-final win here last season, returns from injury.

Grant will still be without a number of senior players, including Frank Lampard, but Villa insists his side are not focussing on which Blues stars are absent.

“We are not obsessing about which players they are missing,” Villa added. “We want to play our game with the intention of overcoming them.”

Chelsea go into the game knowing a good result is crucial following last month’s disappointing home draw with Rosenborg in their opening Group B fixture.

“The game that is nearest is the most important, as it will be for Valencia. We must forget the fact that we lost two points in the first match and get a good result,” said Grant, who insists a stylish performance tonight is secondary to his side putting their Champions League campaign back on track.

One of Grant’s concerns heading into the clash is his side’s recent lack of goals.

“We need to play our game. We need to try and score and make the most of our opportunities, more so than we have done before,” said Grant.

Valencia coach Quique Sanchez Flores does not believe his side’s CL exit at the hands of Chelsea last season will have any bearing.

“They are totally different situations,” said the Valencia boss, whose side have won seven of their eight competitive matches this season.

“We were exhausted, very tired for having played so many games, and we had lost players such as (Carlos) Marchena and Vicente (Rodriguez). This game has nothing to do with last season’s, either on a playing level or psychologically.

“It is the same competition, the same teams, but with different surroundings. We will go into the game with caution, alertness and with high hopes of doing well.”

Sanchez Flores has named an 18-man squad for the encounter, with veteran goalkeeper Santiago Canizares and centre-back Carlos Marchena both passed fit to play.

However, Manuel Fernandes, Edu, Vicente and Marco Caneira are all sidelined due to injury.

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