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Chelsea boss explains why he left Terry on bench for crucial win over Shakhtar

Chelsea's John Terry warms up before the Shakhtar Donetsk game but was left on the bench. Photo credit: Stephen Pond/EMPICS Chelsea's John Terry warms up before the Shakhtar Donetsk game but was left on the bench. Photo credit: Stephen Pond/EMPICS

Thursday, November 8, 2012
8:00 AM

John Terry was left on the bench for Chelsea’s 3-2 Champions League Group E victory over Shakhtar Donetsk last night because he wasn’t fully match fit.

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The former England captain was eligible to play again after his recent four match ban for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.

Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo explained that he was delighted to have his skipper back but that the crucial must-win clash at Stamford Bridge came too soon for the centre back.

The Italian also feels Terry understood the decision to give him a rest.

“Listen, JT is a fantastic player for this club, for our team. He’s got many qualities and I’m very happy that he’s back available for us after the ban,” the Chelsea boss said.

“But considering the last four weeks in his professional life, he has had one competitive game, and I thought we needed players who were 100 per cent match fit for a game like this.

“I’m very glad that he’s back with us now and is available because we will certainly need him.”

Di Matteo added: “First of all, I’m not going to comment on the private conversation with my players, but it’s not easy to tell a player that he’s not starting the game.”

Chelsea were also without Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard because of injury but Di Matteo was delighted with the fight his side showed to keep going until injury time, when Victor Moses bagged the winner, despite being twice pegged back by Willian strikes.

“There was a lot of Champions League experience that wasn’t on the pitch and under normal circumstances you would like them there,” he said.

“Given the tremendous pressure we were under for parts of this game, the players who played deserved huge praise for weathering that. We managed to win the game under a lot of pressure.”

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