CHELSEA captain John Terry has been ruled out of next week’s England friendly against Holland – sparing caretaker manager Stuart Pearce and the Football Association an awkward decision.
Terry had hoped to return from injury in last night’s Champions League clash against Napoli, but woke with pain in his knee and will have surgery today expected to keep him sidelined for up to two months.
Pearce had been facing a difficult call over whether to include Terry (right) in his team – or indeed his squad – following the furore that followed the FA’s move to strip him of the captaincy.
Terry is awaiting trial on a charge of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, whose brother Rio is likely to be in the squad and has long been the favoured central defensive partner for the Blues skipper.
The FA’s intervention, after Terry’s trial was adjourned until July, prompted head coach Fabio Capello to resign in disgust just four months before the start of the European Championship.
Under-21 boss Pearce has been placed in temporary charge while the FA line up a permanent successor – widely expected to be Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp – and will name his squad tomorrow.
Terry suffered the injury when he collided with a post in the FA Cup third round victory over Portsmouth last month and missed four games before his planned, but aborted, comeback last night.
Terry’s latest setback will raise further doubts about the 31-year-old stalwart’s longevity, having suffered increasingly frequent injuries in recent seasons and a dip in form this term.
Despite some erratic performances, his absence still represents a major blow to Chelsea and their beleaguered manager Andre Villas-Boas as they attempt to stop their season disintegrating.
A two-month lay-off would mean Terry missing around a dozen more games, including top-of-the-table clashes with Premier League leaders Manchester City, third-placed Tottenham and rejuvenated Newcastle.
If his recovery goes according to plan, Terry would expect to be back for a trip to Arsenal on 21 April that could prove decisive in the race for fourth place, which the Gunners currently occupy on goals scored.