John Terry has recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out of England's first two qualifiers of their Euro 2012 campaign and goes straight back into the Chelsea team that travels across London to West Ham United today. He might not find it so easy to win back his England place however.
Terry trained alone at Chelsea's deserted training ground last week and has joined the squad this week to be given a clean bill of health. In his absence for England, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott combined so well against Switzerland that they have made the respective returns of Terry and Rio Ferdinand no longer the foregone conclusions they might have seemed.
The Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, has no doubts that Terry will soon be back in the international fold, along with Frank Lampard who has undergone hernia surgery but has not recovered in time for today's trip to his former club.
"I think these players needed to have a rest because they had problems. Terry resolved this problem during the two weeks. Lampard had to have the surgery," Ancelotti said. "John is available to play. Lampard needs to have more time to rest. He trained with us this week and has done very well, but he needs to have more time. Maybe he'll be involved in the Champions League next week but not tomorrow.
"I think Lampard and Terry deserve to play in the national team. I think that, next time, they'll be ready to play for the national team."
Double-winners Chelsea go to Upton Park on top of the Premier League with a perfect record of three wins from three, with 14 goals scored and none conceded. In contrast, West Ham are pointless, have leaked nine goals in their opening three games and have scored one goal – from the penalty spot.
West Ham's worst start for 33 years has prompted speculation that manager Avram Grant, who enjoyed an eight-month spell in charge at Chelsea, is living on borrowed time. Ancelotti had sympathy for the Israeli's plight and said it would be a mistake if West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan decided to ditch him now.
"It can happen when you change a coach, at the start you can have more problems," he said. "They have a good squad, good players in all positions, so their start is surprising. I'm sure that West Ham will have a good season.
"Avram has good experience and knowledge about football. He's able to manage the players. West Ham are a club with history and Avram can do a good job there. I don't think they will be involved in the bottom of the table at the end. Not just because of the quality of the manager, but the quality of the players."
Lampard's absence gives Ancelotti a chance to put 19-year-old Gaël Kakuta on the bench. Ancelotti said: "He will have the same opportunity as the other players. He deserves to play because he's trained very well, he's focused, he's concentrated. If he shows his quality, he will play. We can't consider him a 'young player' any more. We have to consider him a first-team player."
Ancelotti also had some words of wisdom for Manchester United's England striker Wayne Rooney – who is expected to be on the receiving end of fan abuse following revelations about his private life. Terry endured the same treatment last season but the Italian coach believes the United star is capable of taking any abuse in his stride.
"A player who has this kind of problem has to stay focused on the match, on his behaviour on the pitch," said Ancelotti. "If he does that it's not a big problem. When you're on the pitch, you can't think about the behaviour of the fans.
"You have to play football and stay focused. Everyone knows how John Terry played last year. Maybe it can be a good motivation if the opposing fans are against you."Reuse content