John Terry in squad for Spurs game
ENGLAND football captain John Terry is preparing to take to the pitch today after being told he will be prosecuted for racially abusing another top player.
The 31-year-old, who has been absent from training with Chelsea in recent days after suffering an Achilles problem, has been included in the squad for a London derby against Tottenham Hotspur tonight at White Hart Lane.
Yesterday Terry learned he faces criminal charges over video footage appearing to show him shout an offensive comment at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
Chief London prosecutor Alison Saunders told police there was a realistic possibility of conviction surrounding claims Terry called Ferdinand a "black c***" during a league match.
The multimillionaire Chelsea defender, who faces a maximum fine of £2,500 if convicted, said he was "disappointed" as the Crown Prosecution Service announced he would appear before magistrates in February accused of a racially-aggravated public order offence.
Terry, whose future as a leading international player is in doubt, added he would fight to prove his innocence.
He said: "I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible."
Terry is one of the most decorated English players in the modern domestic game, having led west London's Chelsea FC to a string of trophies and league titles.
The player added: "I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends.
"I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society."
Chelsea FC said in a statement that it would continue to be "fully supportive" of Terry.
Ms Saunders said: "I have today advised the Metropolitan Police Service that John Terry should be prosecuted for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments allegedly made during a Premier League football match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea on October 23, 2011.
"The decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and after careful consideration of all the evidence I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case."
Terry will appear before West London Magistrates Court on February 1.
"He is now summonsed with a criminal offence and has the right to a fair trial," the prosecutor added.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted the footballer is in the "right frame of mind" to continue playing.
He said: "John has told me he is in the right frame of mind to play and showed fantastic commitment to the team.
"His performances have been good and I don't doubt his integrity as a person.
"He represents this club to a maximum level and we're very grateful to have a player of his quality in our team, in what he represents in terms of history and achievements a the club.
"We know exactly his human values and personality, so we will support him whatever happens."
The manager pledged his "full support" to the defender shortly before the CPS made its announcement.
Videos of the alleged incident were circulated on the internet in the aftermath of the game.
Lawyers had asked police for more information regarding the incident before making their decision.
A Chelsea FC statement said: "John has made it clear he denies the charge and is determined to do all he can to prove his innocence.
"Chelsea FC has always been fully supportive of John in this matter and there is no question that we will continue to be so.
"The club finds all forms of discrimination abhorrent and we are proud of the work we undertake campaigning on this important issue.
"Chelsea will not be commenting further on the subject while the legal process runs its course."
Shortly after the allegations were made, Terry said he was "disappointed that people have leapt to the wrong conclusions about the context of what I was seen to be saying to Anton Ferdinand".
Campaigners have launched lengthy battles to rid football of racism, which plagued the game during the 1980s.