John Terry will be ready to play against Arsenal this weekend, Chelsea assistant first-team coach Eddie Newton said last night, after the defender was a surprise inclusion in the side for their 6-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Capital One Cup last night.
The 31-year-old played 90 minutes of the third round tie in spite of being midway through his Football Association disciplinary hearing on racial abuse allegations and left Wembley at mid-afternoon to prepare for last night's match. Newton said that the club captain was in the right frame of mind to play against Arsenal on Saturday.
Terry is likely to be found guilty of the charge - the independent regulatory commissions have a 99.5 per cent conviction rate - but he could appeal the verdict and would be free to play in the meantime. A verdict is expected tomorrow with Terry back at Wembley today and Ashley Cole also expected to give evidence over the allegations that the former racially abused Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road on 23 October last year.
Newton, who attended the post-match press conference in place of manager Roberto Di Matteo, said that the decision to include Terry in last night's side had only been made yesterday afternoon. "We wanted John to start," Newton said. "Obviously, with everything happening with the FA, we had to see how it panned out.
"We had a phone call he was making his way back from the FA nice and early so it wasn't 'last minute dot com'. We'd covered all the bases, all the scenarios, and the best one happened."
Asked whether Terry could potentially play against Arsenal at the Emirates in the Saturday lunchtime kick off, given how little he will be able to train this week, Newton said that he thought it was possible. "The fact is he's got a lot of minutes under his belt already," Newton said. "It was a very positive spin for the club that John played another 90.
"Again, we will cover all our bases. There are ways and means around it when it comes to training, after what he does at the FA. We'll work out scenarios, be in constant contact with John, the fitness coaches and medical staff will get around him and make sure he's prepared in the best way possible, as we always do."
There were goals from Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand, Juan Mata, Oriol Romeu (from the penalty spot) Fernando Torres and Victor Moses last night as Chelsea beat a Wolves team with ten changes from the side that beat Peterborough at the weekend. Stale Solbakken said that he took a "calculated risk" because of a run of four games in nine days.
Chelsea confirmed last night reports that their Cobham training ground had been burgled this month and that academy players had lost six wallets, nine mobile phones and several watches from dressing rooms while they were training. It is the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes at the club's Surrey headquarters, including the discovery of a knife, the detonating of a smoke bomb and Ashley Cole shooting an intern with an air rifle.
A club spokesman said: "A number of personal items were recently stolen from the academy dressing room area. The matter is currently being investigated by the police. CCTV footage is being handed to them and confirms the thefts were carried out by a lone intruder not connected with the training ground site. Other local premises near to the training ground were targeted that day and may be connected. Nobody at Chelsea FC is under suspicion."
Newton said that Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge were still injury doubts for Saturday's game. He praised Torres who scored his first goal for a month. Newton said: "Relief isn't the word, to be honest [when Torres scored]. Nando's positive. We're always talking with him and he's very positive. He's feeling a lot sharper. The goals will come. We all believe that. You can't expect it to be a flood all of a sudden. We just want consistency over the season."