John Terry 'ready for England return'
Chelsea captain John Terry believes he is still one of the world's leading defenders - and it is understood he has not fully closed the door on an England return despite his acrimonious departure from international football.
The 32-year-old's influence at Stamford Bridge has waned as fitness concerns have seen him overtaken in the pecking order. Yet Terry maintains he is as good as ever and is believed to be considering making himself available for England again despite being stripped of the captaincy after being charged with racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
Any U-turn would be dependent on personalities in and around the squad, with Terry's resentment towards the Football Association evident last week when he rejected chairman David Bernstein's attempt to shake hands at the Champions League trophy handover.
Terry was cleared at Westminster Magistrates Court of making a racist insult to Anton Ferdinand, brother of his former England team-mate Rio, but was charged by the FA and banned for four matches.
Terry's belief in his ability remains as he enters the final year of his contract and he is prepared to wait for Chelsea to initiate discussions over a new deal. Following the 2-1 Europa League semi-final win at Basel, Terry was asked if he is still as good a player after a decade of repelling the world's leading strikers. "Yes, I personally think that," he said.
"This year's been really frustrating for me, not playing and picking up the (knee) injury (against Liverpool in November). Initially it looked (like an absence of) two or three weeks, it turned out to be three or four months.
"I don't want to talk out of turn, but I'd love to stay at Chelsea. I'm happy to leave things until they come to me. I've got another year left and I'll definitely be here next year. It would be nice to get some silverware, get the season out of the way and maybe talk contracts in the summer."
Terry recognises he is not in the strongest position to go in search of a new contract and that, like Frank Lampard, who could leave this summer, time is catching up with him. But whatever the future holds, Terry cannot envisage himself playing against Chelsea.
"It might be another year, or another two, I don't know," added Terry. "It depends on my fitness and me staying in a good enough condition to impress the guys who make those decisions. I have got another year left which I will honour and respect, regardless if it's a yes or a no.
"Naturally it would be disappointing (to leave), but at the same time you understand that you can't be around forever. Where I would go after that it certainly wouldn't be in England. I couldn't do that to Chelsea or the fans. That's just not me."