Early return of 'bionic' Terry gives Grant much to ponder

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The Independent Football

John Terry is back for Chelsea in the FA Cup against Huddersfield Town today after recovering from a broken foot ahead of schedule. The Independent revealed yesterday that the club captain had told Avram Grant that he was fit and ready to prove his fitness ahead of next Sunday's Carling Cup final.

The Chelsea manager said last Sunday that the 27-year-old would not be ready to play against Tottenham at Wembley but by yesterday he had changed his opinion entirely and said Terry would, at the very least, be on the bench today. "He has surprised us all," Grant said. "Maybe he is a bionic man. He recovers very quickly and well and maybe he will be available. Maybe he will be on the bench or even start, but we haven't decided about that yet. But each injury depends on the person and he is very strong, not just mentally, but also physically."

Terry's return comes after a week of training with the first team and now leaves Grant with the difficult choice of leaving out one from Ricardo Carvalho and Alex to accommodate his captain. Most importantly for Terry, he now has the chance to impress Fabio Capello for the first time since the new England manager was appointed.

"He is a very important player for us. I haven't seen a captain like him," Grant said. "I have been all over the world and he is a big captain and influence on the team. For me a captain leads by example and not just talking. He sets a good example and we miss him a lot on the pitch."

Terry has not played since 16 December, when he broke three bones in his right foot, including his third metatarsal, in a challenge with the Arsenal winger Emmanuel Eboué. As well as the FA Cup fifth round tie today, he will also have the chance to prove his fitness ahead of next Sunday's final in Tuesday's Champions League game against Olympiakos in Greece.

Grant promised to play a strong team against Huddersfield and now has a much greater choice among his squad following the return from the African Nations Cup of Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou. Drogba did not train yesterday with a minor injury although Grant said he would be fit to play today. He admitted that it would be difficult to accommodate all of the players in what has become a richly-resourced squad.

"I don't think we upset people because the players in Chelsea are fully committed to the team," said Grant. "I can never guarantee that I will make everybody happy but they are positive and that is what is important."