Rafael Benitez has confirmed Daniel Sturridge trained with the squad on Tuesday in the first session since Sunday’s Club World Cup final defeat in Japan.
The group arrived back to London from Tokyo on Monday afternoon, and was in early at Cobham to prepare for Wednesday’s trip to Leeds United for our Capital One Cup quarter-final tie. Normally, that would mean a flight this afternoon and a night in a hotel, but instead the squad and staff will travel north on the day.
‘We had to train, it’s the best way to recover quickly. A normal training session, not too hard, and we are ready now,’ said the interim manager.
‘The players are okay, we have suspensions but in terms of fitness they are fine and available, apart from what we knew before. Daniel Sturridge was training with us, he is fine.’
John Terry, however, is still not ready despite progress being made.
‘With John Terry, the knee is quite complicated, sometimes it is going well, but the day after we have to wait a little bit,’ he admitted. ‘He is closer but I can’t say how close. It is getting better.’
The trip to Elland Road, our first meeting with our famous rivals since 2004, comes amid a gruelling schedule that has seen a minimum of two games a week for the past month, with a nine-day jaunt to Japan included. Benitez is only too aware of the demands on his players, and knows we must be careful.
‘We have played seven games, this one will be eight games in 24 days, so it isn’t easy with a new manager when you don’t have time to prepare games, play and go to Japan, but that is the situation and we have to manage it,’ said the Spaniard.
‘But when you’re a top side in different competitions, this is the way. For us every trophy is important and if we win we are in the semi-finals, so we will try to do our best, to win, and then be in the final and to win.’
New in the job, Benitez stressed he does not need any history lessons on the rivalry between Leeds United and Chelsea.
‘We will talk with them and explain how important every game is, how important the competition is for us and how important it is for the fans of both clubs. We have some research about the history and it is quite interesting,’ he said.
‘It’s a night for good players ready to perform on the pitch and do things in the right way. We don’t have to approach games thinking about a battle. It’s football, and we have to try to play good football and enjoy it.
‘We know how difficult it is to beat anyone in England, you saw it with Bradford the other day, and we have to approach the game thinking we have to win. Anything can happen in the 90 minutes but we have the conviction we can win.’