Rafael Benitez is hopeful John Terry will be able to play some part in the run of four league fixtures Chelsea have over the Christmas and the New Year period, but Sunday’s game against Aston Villa comes too soon for the captain.

Terry has been out since 11 November with a strained knee ligament and the manager reports it is an injury that needs careful handling.

Squad news
‘Terry trained today, just running,’ Benitez said. ‘He was on the pitch but he is not available yet. He was not training with the ball, just the warm-up.

‘The knee is quite complicated but the fact he is on the pitch is positive news. But we cannot predict how long it will take. I hope he will play over Christmas but I cannot guarantee anything.

‘He has an inflammation and sometimes it is going well, today in the warm up he was fine, but the day after sometimes he has a problem.’

Also with a slight problem is Ryan Bertrand, who came off during Wednesday’s game at Leeds with a groin injury.

‘He has a little pain,’ explained the interim manager. ‘Today he couldn’t train but we will decide tomorrow and we haven’t ruled him out of Sunday’s game.

‘Daniel Sturridge is training but he was not training with us because of his hamstring problem. There is another training session before the game and if he is training well I will have to decide if he will be in the squad or the team.’

There are no further ill effects from the games out in Japan followed so closely by the one in Yorkshire on Wednesday night.

‘I was really worried before Leeds because I was not sleeping much, and I am sure some of the players were the same,’ admitted Benitez.

‘A game two days after a long trip could be dangerous but it was fine, and I was really surprised and impressed with the performance, the way we played and the spirit we showed. The second half, even when winning 4-1 we were pushing and pressing, so I was pleased with the performance and fitness of the team.’

John Mikel Obi is suspended.

On facing Aston Villa
The West Midlands side have enjoyed an upturn in results since switching formation and have gone five league games without defeat, letting in just two goals.

‘They are doing well and it seems they are comfortable with the system, three at the back with wing backs, and they have good options in counter-attack because [Christian] Benteke is a good reference point,’ said Benitez.

‘But our priority is our team and what we try to do. Obviously we analyse the other team too, but we want them to have to adapt to us more than us to them. This is a crucial time. It is important because there are a lot of points available.’

Benitez once again confirmed David Luiz is an option in midfield but indicated a repeat of the Brazilian’s deployment there is more likely once Terry returns to the squad.

‘I didn’t want to play David Luiz in midfield in the second game in Japan as it was too demanding. Centre-backs run less than midfielders and he was keen to play there but he would not have the same fresh legs so we decided to play him in defence and he was quite good. He can do both positions really well.’

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