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English Premiership

Terry given time off

LIVERPOOL, February 11 – John Terry is to miss Chelsea's FA Cup fifth round tie with Cardiff City on Saturday on compassionate grounds.
Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins made the announcement about Terry’s break after the centre-half was caught out for both of Louis Saha’s goals in a 2-1 loss away to Everton that cut the Londoners lead at the top of the English Premier League to just a point.

Last week Terry was stripped of the England captaincy after reports of an alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of former Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge dominated the British press.

Since the story became public property, Chelsea captain Terry has responded with a series of fine displays for the Blues but his standards slipped at Goodison Park on Wednesday as his team suffered their fourth league defeat of the season.

Terry will now miss this weekend’s tie before returning to prepare for the league game at Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 20.

Meanwhile Wilkins said Saha deserved praise for the way he made life tough for Terry.

"You have got to give Louis Saha credit – he is a very tough opponent to play against," said Wilkins, who appeared at the post-match press conference in place of Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has been rock-solid in his backing of club skipper Terry since the scandal broke.

"John got caught under the ball for the second goal, thinking Louis was probably going to go over the top of him to win it.

"But John has been outstanding for us all season. If it was down to his mistakes it was the slightest of blips," Wilkins, himself a former Chelsea captain, added.

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"He won’t play against Cardiff in the Cup. Carlo has given him time off and he will come back and prepare for the Wolves game.

"They have just had a little chat, John and Carlo, and decided that would be best for all concerned."

Wilkins, who as a midfielder left Chelsea to play for their current title rivals Manchester United, was confident the Blues would bounce back from the setback, insisting there was no need to panic.

"It’s a very exciting Premiership," he said. "We would love to be running away with it by ten points but that was never going to happen.

"But we still find ourselves top of it and we are very pleased with the way things are going – we are still involved in three major competitions.

"Coming to a place like Everton, their workrate is such they made it extremely difficult for us."

Chelsea lost Ashley Cole to an ankle problem early in the second half, but Wilkins was confident it was not a serious injury.

Meanwhile Everton manager David Moyes offered up qualified praise for two-goal hero Saha.

The French forward, who has recently signed a new two-year deal with the club, now has 15 goals for the season.

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But Moyes insisted he should have scored more against Chelsea.

Saha had a penalty saved in first-half stoppage time after the impressive Landon Donovan was bundled over by Ricardo Carvalho when the score was 1-1.

"He should have got four – not two," said Moyes, whose side moved up one place to ninth in the table after this victory.

"I’ve given him a slight pat on the back but not a full one."

However, Moyes was delighted by his team’s character. "To go a goal behind and come back – I don’t know too many teams that do that against Chelsea."

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