Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink revealed on Friday that captain John Terry faces a race against time to prove his fitness for next week’s decisive Champions League showdown with Paris Saint-Germain.
Terry has been sidelined since injuring his hamstring against Newcastle United three weeks ago, but he hinted on Thursday that he was close to a return to action.
Hiddink, however, said the 35-year-old defender is yet to train with the first-team group and will not be risked when Stoke City visit Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday.
That gives Terry just a few days to show he is ready to play against French champions PSG, who hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg of the last-16 tie.
“He is not fit enough to start,” Hiddink said. “He is with the physio and also training. We will see how it goes for Wednesday. He hasn’t trained with the group yet.
“Could he be on the bench against Stoke? I don’t think so. With this kind of injury we have to have intense training before. It’s too much of a risk.
“He has to prove his fitness before PSG. It depends on how he is in training, if it is possible, late on Monday. I will not take any risks with him.”
Chelsea’s win at Norwich City in midweek means they are now unbeaten in 12 league games since Hiddink’s arrival and hopes of rescuing a place in the top four have been revived.
“The players responded well when I came in,” Hiddink said.
“I said to everyone, ‘what was your contribution in the year of the championship and the last half year? Don’t give me an answer by word but in training and in upcoming games’. I think they responded.”
Hiddink, however, insists he is not in the running to take the Chelsea manager’s job long-term.
“I will be now and then at Stamford Bridge and at Cobham as a tourist,” Hiddink added.
“I am here for a short period, that’s how we started. I think the club has to go into a new — transition is too big a word — but a new era.
“They have to go into a new era of Chelsea which is not just about short spells.”