Terry is fit – benitez
Rafael Benitez is convinced John Terry has benefited from the international break and is ready to play a full role in a decisive period in Chelsea's season after recovering full fitness.
While most of the club's senior players were away with their national teams, Terry, who retired from international football last September, remained at Stamford Bridge and Benitez believes the player's lengthy rehabilitation from the knee ligament damage he sustained in November is now complete.
Terry returned to the first team in January but has since started just one Premier League game, at Newcastle, and has been used largely in the club's FA Cup and Europa League fixtures.
"John is really pleased with his condition," said the manager. "In terms of the injury, he's training every day and improving his fitness. It's just a question of how many games he can play, not just him but the rest of the players. We have four games in nine days and nobody can play all of them and be 100pc."
Benitez refused to be drawn on whether England missed Terry during Tuesday's draw in Montenegro, but he was in no doubt of the benefits of an extended rest for a player. "Every time when a player is injured and needs time to come back, the break is important," he said.
Chelsea's testing run of games starts with a trip to Southampton tomorrow and then the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Manchester United 48 hours later.
Fernando Torres and Demba Ba are again set to alternate in the striker role. Both remained at home, with Torres having been dropped from the Spain squad.
Benitez is confident the omission will not affect the striker's attempt to build on his tie-winning goal against Steaua Bucharest in his last appearance.
"He has trained even harder," said Benitez. "The only thing you can do with the strikers is keep them practising and then they will have the confidence to score the goals."
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.