John Terry not guaranteed a start
Chelsea captain John Terry is unequivocal in his support for Rafael Benitez's rotation system if it propels the Blues back into the Champions League -- but the defender insists he is ready, willing and able to play up to three times a week if required.
The 32-year-old defender scored twice in Wednesday night's 3-0 Premier League win at Fulham that saw last season's Champions League winners climb above Arsenal and move into pole position for the third automatic qualifying spot for next year's tournament.
Terry, who was an unused substitute in last Sunday's FA Cup semifinal loss to Manchester City, said: "I accept the rotation system completely. I can definitely play twice a week, three games a week if need be.
"I'm fit, I'm training every day and have done for the last three months. I just want to set the record straight: I'm available, but at the same time, if the manager chooses not to pick me and decides to go with the others, that's not a problem.
"I'm Chelsea through and through and I want nothing more than to get Champions League football. If that means me playing, great. If not I'll be the biggest supporter in the dressing room."
Terry has been synonymous with Chelsea's decade of success under owner Roman Abramovich, but is no longer the first name on the team sheet.
"He has to be happy, scoring goals," Benitez said Wednesday. "Everyone is. It's good for him and the team. I'm really pleased because it was a good performance. I prefer these problems [of whether to leave him out]. I told the players before it is important that they have to be ready.
"We have eight or nine games to play and everyone has to be on his toes and ready to play and perform. We will try to stay in the top three and we have the Europa League as well. We want to compete in both competitions."
Asked if it was hard for Terry being captain but only playing every so often, Benitez added: "I think the most important thing is the team. They know the most important thing is the team is winning. I'm really pleased with his performance but at the end of the day the team has to be winning.
"We have been playing two games a week for four or five months, so it's not easy keeping the players focused, concentrated and not tired. We have to keep them ready for every game. Every player wants to play every game, but they have to realise they can't do that and be 100 percent in each game."
In a season disrupted by a knee injury, Terry has made just 11 Premier League appearances.
Since returning from the problem sustained against Liverpool in November in January's win at Stoke, Terry has made 11 starts, two substitute appearances and been left unused on the bench on 11 occasions.
One of those was at Wembley on Sunday, which came as a surprise in some quarters, even though Terry had played 90 minutes in Moscow three days earlier.
"If [Benitez] decides that's his favorite pair, so be it. It's down to me to work hard and maybe prove him wrong. With Gaz [Gary Cahill, who has had a knee injury] coming back now as well, I don't know where that puts me in the pecking order, but all I can do is train hard, work hard and when I do get a chance, play well.
"There's no complaints. If the manager's straight with me and tells me, that's totally fine."
Five of Terry's starts in 2013 have come in the Europa League and three in the FA Cup, but now Chelsea is challenging on just two fronts, with one major goal.
"We're in the semifinals of the Europa League, but realistically we want to be playing Champions League football," Terry added. "It's a must for the football club."
Information from Press Association was used in this report.