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Roma's chance to bounce back

AS Roma
By ESPN Staff

Ben Haim excited by Terry partnership

Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim is relishing the prospect of playing alongside the inspirational John Terry against Liverpool after paying tribute to the club captain for his help off the field. Ben Haim admits it has been something of a culture shock following his move from Bolton to Stamford Bridge this summer but after impressive performances against Birmingham and Reading, it is clear the giant defender has settled in. Much of that, he admits, has been down to Terry who returns against Liverpool tomorrow after missing the first two games of the season with a knee ligament problem. Ben Haim and Terry will be adversaries at international level when England take on Israel in their Euro 2008 qualifier next month but, for now at least, the former Bolton star is full of praise for the way Terry has shown his leadership qualities off the pitch. Ben Haim said: 'I think John Terry is a fantastic player, he's the captain of the club, he's helped me settle in, he's helped me with everything. 'I think he's a very important player for the team. And I'm sure against Liverpool you will see how important he is. 'Whatever I have needed, he has looked after me. He's been very nice to me, helped me to settle in. I'm very happy. 'He came to me, introduced me to everybody. He looked after me with whatever I needed even if it's to do with the car or the house. 'He spoke and connected very well and this is John Terry. He's not only a fantastic footballer. He has character, he's a leader and we need him fit for the season.' Ben Haim found himself having to play alongside full-back Glen Johnson in the centre of the Chelsea defence during Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Reading after Ricardo Carvalho had limped off with a thigh injury. But despite marshalling the defence with a commanding performance in the second half, Ben Haim knows there is still room for improvement. He added: 'We have played two games and got six points so I think everybody is happy. My own performance was okay, I think. 'It still can be better. I play with fantastic players so I can improve my ability. I know I can, I know I can be a better player. 'When you play with top players of course you play better as well. As a team I think we have made a good start and we want to keep it going. 'We have had two hard games. Birmingham won the Championship and they came as winners to play against us. 'Then we played a very hard game against Reading, I'm sure not many teams will win there because it's a tough place. We showed a lot of character and motivation in the second half especially. I'm very happy that we got the result that we wanted.' Ben Haim admits there is plenty of good-natured banter among the Chelsea players ahead of England's qualifying tie with Israel at Wembley on September 8, but he refuses to look further ahead than Liverpool. He added: 'We have some laughs about the game. We make some jokes, saying `we'll beat you or they'll beat us`. But I think it's still too far away because we have a very important game against Liverpool, so I don't think too far ahead. 'The players at Chelsea want to win everything, every game. Liverpool are a good team but we go there to do our job and we don't think about the Liverpool players or manager. It's not our business. We look after our team and try to do the best for the club.'