Sunday 17 December 2017

Chelsea's hopes hit as Terry losing battle to regain fitness in time for PSG showdown

Chelsea 1 Stoke 1

Bertrand Traore celebrates Photo: AFP/Getty
Bertrand Traore celebrates Photo: AFP/Getty
Chelsea's Bertrand Traore (Not pictured) scores their first goal Photo: Reuters
Stoke's Mame Diouf scores their first goal Photo: Reuters

Matt Law

Guus Hiddink has all but ruled John Terry out of Chelsea's Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday after postponing a specially arranged practice match for his captain.

Terry was again absent as Chelsea warmed up for the second leg of their last-16 tie with this draw.

The central defender instead trained on Saturday morning, but his slow recovery from a hamstring injury prompted Hiddink to delay a training match that had been scheduled for today to test his fitness.

The interim manager will now see whether Terry is fit enough to take part in a practice game tomorrow, but is resigning himself to the fact he will be without the 35-year-old as Chelsea aim to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit against PSG.

"I don't think John will make Wednesday," said Hiddink. "There has not been enough development to put him on the list. The injury is not worse. This morning, he did training and treatment. He can run, but cannot go into a longer stretch where you have to accelerate. He has to be careful."

As well as Terry, Diego Costa and Kenedy were not in the squad against Stoke City. Hiddink is confident Costa will be fit to start against PSG, but is less certain about Kenedy.

"In the last training, Diego got a little bit of a tendon injury," said Hiddink. "He could have started against Stoke, but then the risk was there that he could have fallen into an injury that makes me say afterwards 'why did I play him?'"

Of Kenedy, Hiddink added: "He is not OK yet. Hopefully tomorrow he will practise and we'll see on Tuesday. He has a tendon problem."

Mame Biram Diouf's late goal denied Chelsea a fourth successive Premier League victory after 20-year-old Bertrand Traore had opened the scoring.

Despite their good form, Hiddink says his team go into the second leg against PSG at Stamford Bridge as underdogs and insists they must start better than they did in the draw with Stoke.

"We are the underdog now," he said. "We are not the favourites. We have now regained confidence and have quality, but PSG can rest five, six or seven players today. Let's be very tough underdogs.

"We need to be angry in a controlled way. The players must be fully concentrated because PSG are a class team and they will punish you if you start sloppy."


Willian agreed that Chelsea would have to set the tempo. "From the first minute, we have to show them what we want. We know they want to keep possession, but we have to put them under pressure," said the Brazilian.

"It will be difficult because there are so many good teams, but I think we can win it. But we have to think about Wednesday first and then step by step we can go to the final. To give Guus one title will be great for us and for him, so we try to give him one trophy to go with."

Stoke manager Mark Hughes said he had been "encouraged" by the Chelsea team sheet but added: "In my view Chelsea's best chance of getting in the Champions League [next season] is by their league position, not by winning the Champions League."

"Given the run they have had I thought they could get fourth."

Hughes was pleased to see Diouf take his opportunity as an out-and-out striker and took a swipe at the Chelsea fans near the dugout who heckled him.

"Mame's had to be patient," said Hughes, who played for Chelsea for three years. "I haven't given him too many opportunities down the middle. He's played out wide, left, right, played full back on a couple of occasions when he's had to and he's got on with it.

"I'm thankful he's scored the goal because he's deserved it, not only his performance today, but what he's produced in recent weeks."

Asked about the criticism from supporters, Hughes said: "Maybe they're a new batch, they don't remember when I was a player here."

Given his Chelsea history and the way he has transformed Stoke it is surprising Hughes has never seemed a candidate to take over at Stamford Bridge. Maybe hiring a failed QPR manager, and former Fulham boss, would be too radical but Roman Abramovich has made worse choices. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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