Antonio Conte defends Chelsea legend John Terry but makes no promises over future role

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has placed his support behind John Terry and insisted that he has an important role regardless of whether or not he plays.

The 35-year-old returned to face West Ham United in the EFL Cup this week but couldn’t captain his side to a win as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the London Stadium.

Given that he hadn’t featured since September 11 against Swansea City after picking up an injury, Conte was quick to defend his defensive leader and insist that it was always going to be difficult for him as he continues to recover and gain full match fitness.

“I don’t like to talk about the individual player, for the performance. We win together and we lose together in every circumstance,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of this weekend’s clash with Southampton.

“It is logical John came back from an injury and it is not easy to start and find quickly the right shape but I am satisfied for him. On Sunday we have another tough game and it is important we stay concentrated for this game.

“John is an important player for us if he plays, if he doesn’t play, for the changing room, for his team-mates and for the club. In this case it is important for the team and not to speak about an individual player.

“I always have to take the best decision for the team and never for an individual player.”

It’s interesting to hear Conte avoid making any promises about how often Terry will feature moving forward though, as the former Juventus and Italy boss had seemingly got his team back on track prior to the midweek setback.

Chelsea had secured three consecutive wins and three clean sheets in a row after he opted to move to a 3-4-3 system with Terry still sidelined, and the balance in the side seemed to be spot on.

With David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill seemingly finding their feet in the three-man defence, time will tell if Terry is pushed back to the bench in the weeks ahead.

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