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May 10, 2013

Terry set to miss out in Amsterdam

Chelsea captain John Terry seems likely to miss the cut as interim manager Rafael Benitez plans for Wednesday's Europa League final against Benfica.

Terry, 32, has fallen out of favour under Benitez having started just 10 Premier League games this season, and he has been an unused substitute in Chelsea's last three fixtures.

His last start came in the 2-0 win over Swansea City on April 28, though he did play in the Europa League semi-final first-leg victory in Basel before that.

Chelsea head to Aston Villa on Saturday before starting their preparations for the Europa League final, a short hop across the North Sea in Amsterdam.

While Benitez has confirmed Frank Lampard, just one goal behind Bobby Tambling's club scoring record of 202, will face Villa he was keeping his cards close to his chest for Benfica. But his words will have brought little comfort for Terry and his hopes of selection having missed the 2012 Champions League victory over Bayern Munich through suspension.

"The competition in this position is really hard here," Benitez said. "[Gary] Cahill, [Branislav] Ivanovic, David Luiz are all doing well too. Now we have four centre-backs who have to compete, and they are doing well."

When asked whether Terry would play in the final, Benitez merely maintained he "hasn't decided yet".

He added: "I cannot say anything about the final [in terms of who is picked]. We have to play another game and, after, we will decide the team for the final. That's it. The only player I can guarantee will be picked is Lampard against Villa. After, we will see about the final."

He believes Brazilian duo Ramires and Luiz, who joined from Benfica during the 2010-11 season, could play a significant part.

"Ramires and David Luiz have experience in Portuguese football so that will be helpful for me and us to know a bit more about their team," he said. "They know the manager [Jorge Jesus], the style, the ideas. To be fair, I was talking to some of them before and, more or less, we have an idea. But they will give me more of a clue."

The Spaniard also denied that December's 8-0 win against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge would have any bearing on Saturday's match.

"We know that it's really important but, at the same time, we know we have to win one game. So, if we can win against Aston Villa it will be easier to approach the final with confidence. If we cannot, we'll still have another chance. We are in a very good position. We want to be in a better position, winning against Aston Villa."

Benitez does not feel that Chelsea are favourites to win the Europa League.

"Always when you go to a final, everything can happen," Benitez added. "We know really well Benfica. They have a good manager and good players, and experience in Europe. I don't see any team as favourites. Both are quite good teams, and we will see what happens in the final.

"[The Europa League has] been important for us because we could keep everyone on their toes, ready to play, and I think it's been positive in the end."

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