Chelsea boss Hiddink plotting "intense" practice match to test Terry fitness
Published 28/02/2016 | 22:36
Guus Hiddink is considering organising a practice match to help John Terry recover his fitness in time for Chelsea's Champions League tie with Paris St Germain.
The Chelsea captain has missed the past three fixtures with a hamstring injury and while there is a hope he will soon return, Hiddink retains a concern over his match fitness.
In their next four matches, Chelsea face Norwich and Stoke in the Premier League, take on PSG in the second leg of their European tie needing to overturn a 2-1 deficit from Paris, before meeting Everton in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Terry has long been an important figure for Chelsea but amid a serious knee injury ruling fellow centre-back Kurt Zouma out for the rest of the season and left-back Baba Rahman's error-strewn display in Saturday's 2-1 league win at Southampton, his return is considered particularly vital.
Terry could yet return before the PSG fixture, scheduled for March 9, but aware of his potential importance for that particular match, Hiddink said: "We'll see how we react and if he needs a game we might organise a game, an intense game. Maybe he needs 11 vs 11 at Cobham or maybe six versus six or seven versus seven but with intensity. It's very tight, it's very tight (on if he will be fully fit)."
Hiddink has no intention of taking any risks with the 35-year-old's fitness, though.
He said: "If the medical staff says (he can feature against Norwich on Tuesday) and John says so then I'll be careful because I have the experience in the past with these kind of injuries.
"Someone thinks 'I'm fine, I feel okay', but the demands of the game are a little bit different than, although it's heavy, training. I prefer to wait although everyone is knocking on the door, I prefer to wait especially in relation to the games coming up.
"I don't think (Terry will rush back in order to earn a new contract). We talked, I talked to him, I said 'Hey, let's take our time', not to rush things and nothing to do with the contractual situation.
"It's not long because normally for hamstring and tendon injuries they're, at least it depends on the grade of the seriousness of the injury, but normally it's longer than an ankle injury or whatever and I have the experience to wait, maybe even a game longer than everyone thinks."
It was notable that on Saturday, Southampton, with Graziano Pelle, Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse on the substitutes' bench, appeared the strongest they have all season.
The defeat to Chelsea came after a run of five wins and a draw from their previous six fixtures, and 708 minutes without conceding a goal.
It left them seventh in the table but manager Ronald Koeman has urged his team to concentrate on surpassing last season's league position, when they also finished seventh.
"It is all about the spirit of the team and if we can keep that spirit with the quality of the players then we can finish in a high position," he said.
"It is also about injuries and if you have all the players available. We are trying to finish stronger than last season.
"I think we can finish strong because we have good competition and that is the biggest difference from last season."