Conte banks on Terry to halt slide

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

CHELSEA icon John Terry looks primed to be thrown straight back into ac­tion to­day against strug­gling Hull in a bid to end a run of two suc­ces­sive Premier League de­feats.

Both losses to Liver­pool and Arse­nal have been since Terry dam­aged an­kle lig­a­ments but hav­ing re­turned to train­ing this week and with Eng­land cen­tral de­fender Gary Cahill out of form the 35-year-old club cap­tain is needed more than ever.

Terry, who looked to have ended his Chelsea ca­reer at the end of last sea­son only to ac­cept a year long con­tract, has quickly emerged as a cen­tral fig­ure in Conte’s plans af­ter the Ital­ian missed out on his main de­fen­sive tar­gets dur­ing the re­cent trans­fer win­dow.

The ar­rival of David Luiz and Mar­cos Alonso on trans­fer dead­line day at least bol­stered the de­fen­sive num­bers but nei­ther player has made a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact since then.

Luiz’s part­ner­ship with Cahill in cen­tral de­fence has looked any­thing but con­vinc­ing.

Cahill in par­tic­u­lar was guilty of an er­ror in Arse­nal’s 3-0 vic­tory which con­firmed the scale of the task con­fronting Conte as he at­tempts to re­vive the club.

The Eng­land de­fender is likely to make way for Terry for a game that has grown in sig­nif­i­cance ahead of back to back meet­ings with cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter and Manch­ester United.

Al­ready the head coach has spo­ken of the dif­fi­cul­ties of im­prov­ing the con­fi­dence of a side who fin­ished mid-ta­ble last sea­son.

And while the fo­cus has been trained on prob­lems at the back, the man­ner of the Arse­nal de­feat also raised ques­tions about other play­ers with mid­fielder N’Golo Kante’s lack of form iden­ti­fied as a grow­ing con­cern.

“When you want to win you must have a good bal­ance when you at­tack and when you de­fend,” said Conte.

“I think this is the right way if you want to win. It’s im­por­tant to work to­gether in de­fen­sive sit­u­a­tions and in of­fen­sive sit­u­a­tions. We must work to­gether. We can im­prove a lot and it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand this and try to work to­gether.”

Pre-sea­son rel­e­ga­tion favourites Hu l l pos te d backto-back Premier League wins at the out­set of the cam­paign, but they have strug­gled since that en­cour­ag­ing start and are aim­ing to ar­rest a slump in form which has seen them take one point from the last 12. They have con­ceded nine goals in their last two games, heavy de­feats by Arse­nal and Liver­pool, as they go in search of a first vic­tory against Chelsea in al­most 28 years, a win­less run cov­er­ing the sides’ last 12 meet­ings.

Un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture of care­taker man­ager Mike Phe­lan, who af­ter al­most a fort­night of de­lib­er­a­tion is yet to ac­cept an of­fer to take the role full-time, and on­go­ing talks to sell the club have played a part in the down­turn in re­sults for the 14th-placed Tigers.

Ryan Ma­son is set to make his full home de­but fol­low­ing a club record £10 mil­lion move from Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur last month.

“We’ve shown what we’re ca­pa­ble of al­ready this sea­son, and it’s up to us to re­pro­duce that kind of form again,” said the 25-year-old.

“It’s an­other mas­sive game on home soil, and we want to re­spond. Our home form is go­ing to be im­por­tant for the rest of the sea­son, we know that.”

John Terry

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