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John Terry free after ban but Di Matteo coy on starting place

Friday, 9 November 2012 - 8:48pm IST Updated: Friday, 9 November 2012 - 8:49pm IST | Place: London | Agency: Reuters
The centre back, banned by the English FA after being found guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand last year, missed the league matches against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Swansea City as well as the League Cup match against United.

John Terry is available after four-game suspension for Chelsea's Premier League match against Liverpool on Sunday but coach Roberto Di Matteo would not be drawn on whether his club captain will start.

The centre back, banned by the English FA after being found guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand last year, missed the league matches against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Swansea City as well as the League Cup match against United.

Terry was eligible and played in the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine while serving his domestic ban, but was an unused substitute when Shakhtar played Chelsea at home on Wednesday. "He is going to be available on Sunday and is in a good position to be involved," Di Matteo, speaking to reporters at the club's training ground at Cobham, said on Friday.

Asked if he was pleased the ban was over, the Italian replied: "We can focus on the football and try and achieve things on the pitch. But no-one is guaranteed a starting place, they all have to work and be fighting for their places in the team. "They are all internationals. We have England internationals playing, or a Brazilian international, or a Serbian - there is a lot of quality there at a very high level. But he continues to be our captain and our leader when he plays."

Chelsea, who slipped to second last weekend, will be without left-back Ashley Cole, who is still suffering with the hamstring injury that kept him out of Wednesday's 3-2 win over Shakhtar. Liverpool, who lost 1-0 to Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League on Thursday, are 12th but have a good recent record at Stamford Bridge - winning on their last three visits including two last season in the League Cup and the league.

(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Justin Palmer)


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