Terry rejects Di Matteo's talk of knee problems


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The Independent Football

The Chelsea captain, John Terry, has dismissed fears that he has a troublesome knee injury and is determined to face Portsmouth in the FA Cup third round tomorrow.

The London club's assistant manager Roberto Di Matteo said yesterday that the 31-year-old had been struggling with the problem of late – it is believed Terry had an injection to get through Monday's Wolves game. Di Matteo then sparked concern by suggesting Terry faced a late fitness test today.

However, The Independent understands that the England defender took part in training for the past two days and has already made himself available to play.

Chelsea's manager, Andre Villas-Boas, has few options in central defence to face the Championship club because Branislav Ivanovic is still ruled out with a hamstring injury, while Alex is no longer considered for first-team duty after having a transfer request accepted.

Terry is desperate to start games for Chelsea at present while they struggle for consistency, which is why he played through the pain barrier during the busy festive period.

He feels he has had enough time to recover and is mystified why Di Matteo said he was still injured at Chelsea's press conference.

However, the imminent completion of Gary Cahill's £7m transfer from Bolton, with the defender set to agree personal terms, will give Villas-Boas the option of resting Terry for some low-key matches if the need arises.

Meanwhile, Di Matteo believes the FA Cup can help turn Chelsea's season around and make Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson regret ruling them out of the title race. Chelsea trail the leaders Manchester City by 11 points and are eight points behind Ferguson's side.

Di Matteo knows how the FA Cup can inspire Chelsea, having scored in their 1997 and 2000 final triumphs, and said: "This club has been very successful in the last decade in this competition. We're looking at putting our strongest team out on Sunday.

"Can it help our domestic form? Absolutely. When you have a Cup run it gives everybody confidence and lifts the atmosphere with the supporters."

Chelsea will also be without John Obi Mikel (leg), while Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou have left to join Ivory Coast's squad ahead of the African Cup of Nations.