Potters entertain the Blues at the Britannia Stadium.
John Terry has been named in Chelsea’s squad for Saturday’s Premier League game at Stoke City, having made his comeback from a two-month injury lay-off in a game for the club’s under-21s.
Terry made a 45-minute appearance against Fulham’s under-21s at Chelsea’s training ground on Thursday, in his first competitive appearance since damaging knee ligaments in a game against Liverpool on November 11.
Interim manager Rafael Benitez confirmed on Friday that his captain would return to the squad for the trip to Stoke, but said that the 32-year-old would not start the game.
“He played yesterday. He was OK,” Benitez said.
“He has been training today. He is in the squad.”
Asked if Terry would start, Benitez added: “No, but he is available. It’s good news for us. He has been out for 16 weeks.”
Speaking on Thursday, Terry said he had been encouraged by his performance in the under-21s match.
Benitez was in attendance and Terry, wearing his usual number 26 shirt, made an assured return to action before being substituted at half-time with the score 0-0.
“I have come through all right,” Terry told Chelsea TV.
“Initially I was going to play between 30 and 45 (minutes), so I managed to get through the first half and the knee feels totally fine, which is the main thing. It has been a frustrating two months, really.
“I felt fine, totally fine — passing, tackling, everything felt fine. It’s really positive to come through a game and hopefully give myself a chance to be back involved with the first team.”
Chelsea have lost two of their last three matches, going down 1-0 at home to bottom club Queens Park Rangers in the league and losing 2-0 at home to Swansea City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final on Wednesday, either side of a 5-1 win at Southampton in the FA Cup.
The European champions go into the game at Stoke in fourth place in the league table, 14 points behind leaders Manchester United and seven points below second-place Manchester City but with a game in hand.
Venue Britannia Stadium, Saturday 3pm
Last season Stoke 0 Chelsea 0
Referee Andre Marriner
This season’s matches 12 Y43, R0, 3.58 cards per game
Odds Stoke 16-5 Chelsea 10-11 Draw 5-2
Subs from Nash, Sorensen, Etherington, Whitehead, Jerome, Owen, Edu, Arismendi, Ness, Upson, Crouch, Palacios, Shotton
Injured Wilson (broken leg, 29 Jan), Delap (hernia, Feb)
Form guide LLWWLW
Disciplinary record Y46 R3
Leading scorer Walters 5
Subs from Blackman, Hilário, Ferreira, Terry, Bertrand, Lampard, Ake, Piazón, Marin, Torres, Clifford, Gordon, Nkumu
Doubtful Terry (match fitness)
Injured Benayoun (knee, 20 Jan), Cech (groin, 20 Jan), Romeu (knee, May)
Unavailable Mikel, Moses (both international duty)
Form guide LWWWWL
Disciplinary record Y29 R2
Leading scorers Mata, Torres 7
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight league and cup games away to Stoke (W5, D3).
The Potters’ last home win against the Blues was a 3-0 victory in a top-flight match on 5 April 1975. Chelsea were relegated at the end of that season.
Defeat at Manchester City was the Potters’ first loss in 11 league games (W5, D5, L1).
They have conceded six goals in their last two Premier League matches, having let in only five in the previous 11 games.
Jon Walters has started each of Stoke’s last 72 league games, the longest current run of any outfield player in the top flight.
Peter Crouch scored in his first game against Chelsea, for Aston Villa in May 2002, but hasn’t found the net in 15
Premier League games against them since.
The Potters are the only Premier League team yet to concede a goal from outside the penalty area this season.
The Blues have won their last four away games in league and cup, scoring a total of 13 goals.
They have not lost back-to-back top-fight matches since May, when they were beaten by Newcastle and then Liverpool.
Demba Ba has scored four goals in four Premier League appearances against Stoke.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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