Di Matteo: We will battle on with or without Terry

Julian Harris
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CHELSEA boss Roberto Di Matteo last night insisted his team can cope without John Terry and keep challenging for the Premier League title, after the club’s captain was stretchered off in agony during a disappointing home draw against Liverpool.

Terry opened the scoring on 20 minutes but the injury, suffered later in the half, raised fears of possible cruciate ligament damage. A 73rd minute Luis Suarez header compounded a tough day at the office for the Blues.

“At centre back we have cover,” Di Matteo said after the game, adding that defenders David Luiz and Ashley Cole should return for this Saturday’s trip to West Brom.

“When a player reacts like that it’s painful. He’s in pain now but we hope it’s not serious.”

Terry will undergo an MRI scan today to determine the severity of the injury, sustained when Liverpool’s Suarez accidentally fell into him after being challenged by Ramires.

With the two Manchester clubs winning their weekend games, the draw saw Chelsea slip into third place in the table, a point behind Manchester City and three points behind leaders Manchester United.

“We’re still in the mix,” Di Matteo said. “I think we’re in better shape than in previous years. We’re in a much better position and we’re very close to our best.

“We still have momentum – we won in the [Capital One] Cup, an incredible game against United, and we won midweek in the Champions League.”

Liverpool began yesterday’s visit to Stamford Bridge controlling most of the ball, yet the early chances fell to the home side. On six minutes Joe Allen was caught in possession not far outside the Liverpool penalty area, but Oscar wasted the resulting chance.

On 19 minutes Branislav Ivanovic blasted a laid off free-kick high and wide. Just a minute Juan Mata, October’s Premier League player of the month, curled in a corner and Terry eluded Daniel Agger to head in.

Terry’s injury soured the first half for Chelsea, but nonetheless they went into the break 1-0 up and continued to enjoy the best chances after the interval. Just four minutes into the second half Mata ballooned a one-on-one high over the bar after three Liverpool players collided to present what should have been an easy chance.

And Chelsea were eventually made to pay the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Substitute Suso swung in a 73rd minute corner which Jamie Carragher flicked on. The ball dropped to the far post where Suarez headed in from close range to grab a draw.