• Premier League

Benitez still can't guarantee Terry starts

ESPN staff
April 18, 2013
Benitez can't guarantee top four finish

Chelsea defender John Terry's two-goal salvo at Fulham may not be enough to guarantee him a starting berth at Liverpool on Sunday, according to interim manager Rafael Benitez.

Chelsea moved back into the Premier League's top-three with a 3-0 win at Craven Cottage, with Terry leading from the back with a rare brace.

But despite Terry's heroics, Benitez, who has swapped and changed his side throughout his tenure, said he was happy for the 32-year-old, but would not hesitate in making the necessary changes to keep the Chelsea in the winning mood.

"He has to be happy, scoring goals," Benitez said. "Everyone is.

"It's good for him and the team. I'm really pleased because it was a good performance. (But) I think the most important thing is the team.

"They know the most important thing is the team is winning. I'm really pleased with his performance but at the end of the day the team has to be winning.

"I prefer these problems (of whether to leave him out). I told the players before it is important that they have to be ready.

"We have eight or nine games to play and everyone has to be on his toes and ready to play and perform.

"We have been playing two games a week for four or five months, so it's not easy keeping the players focused, concentrated and not tired.

"We have to keep them ready for every game. Every player wants to play every game, but they have to realise they can't do that and be 100 per cent in each game.

"We will try to stay in the top three and we have the Europa League as well. We want to compete in both competitions."

The Fulham victory comes hot on the heels of a 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to reigning Premier League champions, Manchester City.

And Benitez said his team responded well to being knocked out with another cup final in sight.

"We finished the game against City doing really well," Benitez said. "To lose in a semi-final of the FA Cup against a top side is not the best, but at least it was against a good team.

"We had some confidence and today we knew this was a derby and we had to do well, but we were ready.

"Three goals, a clean sheet and the way we played in the second half was really pleasing so there are a lot of positives today.

"When we scored the second goal obviously we knew they'd come at us and we'd have more space.

"We were well organised and defending well, had chances on the counter-attack and you cannot complain when you score three away."

Meanwhile, Fulham counterpart Martin Jol bemoaned a performance which started strongly but slowly fell away as Chelsea asserted its dominance.

"The first 30 minutes I thought our possession game was good," Jol said. "We played the four attacking players and had a good go at them. They're a strong team.

"If you see the players they brought back into the team - Terry, for example, scored two goals.

"It is a fantastic team, but it is still disappointing we could not capitalise on the first 30 minutes."

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