LONDON, Nov 15, 2010 (AFP) - Carlo Ancelotti expects John Terry to be back for next weekend's trip to face Birmingham after the Chelsea captain missed the champions' shock 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland.
Terry was forced to withdraw the day before the game when he suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury that also meant he would miss England's midweek friendly with France.
The defender has suffered with this problem on a number of occasions already this season, but Chelsea manager Ancelotti insists this is not a matter for concern.
"John had control of this problem," Ancelotti said. "He never missed a training (session), but yesterday (Saturday) the pain was more, so he was not able to play. But I think he can play the next game.
"It is an injury, but he can control it. He has controlled it for 12 games. He’s doing good prevention, good treatment. Everything will be okay for him."
Ancelotti was forced to defend the quality of his squad in the wake of a defeat he conceded was the worst he has suffered since taking charge at Stamford Bridge.
The late withdrawal of Terry forced Ancelotti into a defensive reshuffle while the absence of Frank Lampard and Michael Essien left the Chelsea manager short of options in midfield.
|Chelsea's French striker Nicolas Anelka plays against Sunderland during the match at Stamford Bridge on November 14, 2010. Sunderland won 3-0. AFP|
Both departments looked weak against Steve Bruce's side, who secured a deserved victory thanks to a first half goal from Nedum Onuoha and second half efforts from Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck.
And with the Blues substitutes' bench made up largely of untried inexperienced youngsters, Ancelotti was unable to change the course of the game when Chelsea attempted to force their way back into contention.
The Italian admitted the performance was the worst since he took charge at Stamford Bridge but remains confident he has the strength in depth to sustain a challenge in all competitions.
"Sometimes we've had some players out in the past, some important players, and the team has played well," he said.
"Today was different. We were not able to play our football. This happens. I think the squad is strong enough, strong enough.
"But we maintain our position at the top of the table. We're not happy today because, above all, at home we have to play with a different mentality. I hope we come back early and in the right way."
The absence of Terry and fellow centre back Alex - who has a knee problem - meant Branislav Ivanovic and Paulo Ferreira were selected as a makeshift centre back pairing.
The duo were exposed, however, by Sunderland forwards Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck, forcing Ancelotti to defend his decision to opt for Ferreira ahead of Dutch youngster Jeffrey Bruma.
Ancelotti will now convene a meeting with his squad in a bid to get to the root cause of the poor performance.
"It was a surprise, a strange result," he said. "But the result is normal because we didn't play well. We didn't play a good game. Sunderland played a fantastic game with more fighting spirit and attitude, mentality.
"It's normal to lose the game if you don't show this kind of mentality. When things were okay four months ago, I said the difficulty would arrive. They have now, and we have to come back in our training sessions to stay more focused and play better than today."
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is already thinking ahead to the end of the season and the prospects of securing Welbeck and Onuoha on permanent deals.
Welbeck is on loan from Manchester United while defender Onuoha switched to the Stadium of Light on a season-long arrangements from Manchester City.
"We’d love them (to stay)," he said. "We've got them for a year, and we'll speak to the respective clubs nearer the time.
"They're exactly what we're looking for: young, energetic, desperate to play."