LONDON, Feb 17 — Chelsea skipper John Terry might be handed a rare outing at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup fifth round tomorrow, with manager Antonio Conte planning to rest first-choice centre back David Luiz.
The 36-year-old Terry, a fixture in Chelsea’s back line for more than a decade, has been pushed to the margins this season, making nine appearances in total, of which four have come in cup competitions.
Brazilian Luiz, who Conte signed from Paris St Germain in August for a second spell at Chelsea, has effectively replaced Terry in the first team, playing in the middle of the manager’s preferred three-at-the-back formation.
“John Terry is fit for this game,” Conte told a news conference today.
“All the players are available but there are situations that are better to keep under control. For Marcos Alonso, to give him a bit of rest, also for David Luiz, we have the opportunity to give him a week to recover and prepare for the next game.”
Luiz has been carrying a knee injury since Chelsea beat Manchester City at the start of December, and had his leg strapped in Sunday’s Premier League draw at Burnley, but Conte said there was no cause for concern.
“Luiz is okay. His knee improved a lot,” the Italian added.
Youngsters Nathan Ake and Ruben Loftus-Cheek may also get to face second-tier Wolverhampton, who beat Liverpool in the last round.
“We must pay great attention because this team showed in recent past they have possibility to beat a great team as Liverpool and Stoke City,” Conte said.
Chelsea are runaway leaders in the Premier League, with an eight-point lead over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, but Conte said winning both the league and FA Cup this season would be a big ask.
“It won’t be easy — in the league there are six teams very strong to fight to the end to win the title,” he added. — Reuters