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Benitez plays down Chelsea row

Rafael Benitez has played down suggestions that he verbally clashed with his players on the training ground after their 2-0 defeat to Manchester City this weekend.

• Blog: Familiar failings

Several media outlets broke the story that Benitez had led a training session with his players only to angrily reveal what he believed were the team's shortcomings before engaging in a heated row with club captain John Terry.

However, Benitez, speaking in his press conference on Tuesday, claimed that his relationship with the players was 'fantastic' and that there was no issue.

"This was a normal meeting between players and technical staff, which happens after every game," he said. "It was normal talk, nothing else. You show your disappointment. That is normal.

"I can understand the frustrations of [John] Terry - he is an important player for us and has been injured with his knee. It was very brief exchange of ideas, and that is it, nothing else. It is just a team talk after a defeat.

"We had a meeting on the pitch with my players and technical staff, which is part of our business. Now we have to move on and start thinking about Middlesbrough [whom Chelsea face in the FA Cup quarter-finals].''

When asked about his relationship with the Chelsea players, Benitez said: "It is fantastic. I have no problem. We are training really well. I've said before: the atmosphere is really good inside.

"They're a good group of players, working hard and keen to learn. They were disappointed like me with the defeat, but that's it."

On the fitness problems of Terry, Benitez claimed that his skipper was suffering a little from a setback, while also revealing that fellow defender Gary Cahill was out for the game against Boro.

"Yes, we have to manage his [Terry's] fitness," he said. "He had the plan before and we have to decide. He was training. If he had more full training sessions, it'd be easier. He had a setback, but he's training now and could finish the training session today, so he could play.

"Cahill has a virus and is ill, so can't play. [Cesar] Azpilicueta has some discomfort in his leg so cannot play. These, with Oriol Romeu, are out."

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