Roberto Di Matteo has spoken publicly ahead of Saturday lunchtime’s game at Tottenham, and welcomes back two England internationals into his squad.
The manager was at Cobham on Friday as he met with the press following the morning training session, and had plenty to discuss with the visit to Andre Villas-Boas’s Spurs to come at the weekend, a game we face without the suspended John Terry, who this week accepted an FA charge that will see him suspended for four domestic fixtures.
Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand rejoined training at Cobham yesterday (Thursday). The pair missed England’s two matches during the break for international fixtures, Lampard with a calf injury and Bertrand with a systemic viral infection.
There were no other problems as players reported back from their country’s fixtures with a clean bill of health.
‘Fortunately they all got back healthy and without injuries,’ reported Di Matteo. ‘Ryan and Frank joined the group yesterday for the first time so had two full training sessions with us and will be available for tomorrow.’
We face Spurs for the first time since our former manager Andre Villas-Boas took charge at White Hart Lane, and having worked under the Portuguese at Stamford Bridge last season, Di Matteo is looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic London derby.
The Italian feels his players will be more keen to earn three points and maintain our strong position at the top of the Barclays Premier League than get one over on their old boss.
‘We are more focused playing against Tottenham, a team in very good form with four consecutive wins,’ he said. ‘We haven’t won in the league there since 2005, a very long time, and they are always difficult games for us to play as well. I don’t think in their mind it is about revenge, it is more about playing against the club and the good players they have.
‘We’ve obviously worked together and tomorrow we will be opponents for the first time as well but during the game there are not going to be any good feelings between us, but certainly after the game. We are in touch from time to time and our relationship is good.’
On John Terry
The defender this week accepted the findings of an FA commission into language he used in our game at Queens Park Rangers last October, which means he will miss four domestic matches, starting tomorrow, with a fine of £220,000.
Di Matteo faced extensive questioning over the issue, but reiterated the club’s policy not to publicly discuss internal disciplinary measures, including whether Terry will retain the captaincy.
‘It’s a longstanding policy we have as a club and that’s how we have always dealt with internal matters and disciplinary measures that we have taken against players and we’ll continue to do so in the future,’ the manager said.
‘We appreciate that he has not appealed the ban and the fine, and that he has apologised publicly for the language he used, and we are supportive of that.
‘It has certainly put a little bit of a cloud over the image of the club. We’ve done many good things as well and it’s a shame we cannot talk more about football which is our main priority. I’m sitting here and I’ve a big week coming up – probably one of the most important weeks with Spurs away, Shakhtar in the Champions League and then Man United.
‘I think the results tell us we’ve been able to focus on the football and not so much the events outside football, and the team in general has been supportive. We’ll be focused again to play against Spurs and have a good game.’