Chelsea captain John Terry is ready to start in the EFL Cup fourth round at West Ham after he made the bench in the last two Premier League victories over Leicester City and Manchester United. However, Antonio Conte has confirmed that the game will still come too early for Cesc Fabregas, Branislav Ivanovic and long-term absentee Kurt Zouma.
Terry is yet to play a game since the draw at Swansea on 11 September due to a strained ligament in his foot. The captain returned to the squad for the 3-0 victory over Leicester but Conte opted to keep him on the bench to use Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill in his back-three instead.
Some reports last week suggested that the captain had suffered a setback in the recovery but he made the bench against United, and is now 100% fit to lead the Chelsea defence at West Ham should Conte decided to recall him.
"He's fit to start, he's in good shape," Conte said although failing to confirm whether he will regain his starting role in the line-up. "Tomorrow I will decide the starting 11 but John's fit and he's been training well".
"We know for sure that it's a tough game but all the players are ready to play a good game. I hope to see a good atmosphere. I know these two teams are big rivals and in England the atmosphere is always fantastic at matches."
Conte is expected to give a chance to some fringe players at West Ham ahead of having his key players fresh for the Premier League coming visit to Southampton on Sunday (30 October). However, Ivanovic and Fabregas will not be among them as the duo are still recovering from their respective injuries.
"Ivanovic is better, he started to train with us from yesterday but it's normal after a injury that he needs a bit of time to come back,' Conte when asked about the right-back. "Cesc is still not right, we must wait because he had a muscular problem. We must be patient but I hope to see him training with the team very soon."
Conte was specially positive about the recovery of Zouma after the Frenchman played 45 minutes for the Chelsea under 23 squad in a 2-2 draw against Derby. However, the centre-back is also obviously out for the trip to West Ham as he is yet to play a game for the first-team since suffering a serious knee injury during a game against Manchester United earlier in February.
"I'm pleased about this because Zouma is a young player but a good player," Conte said. "After the West Ham game, I hope to see him working with us in training. I'm very happy he played with the Under-23s and he had a good response in terms of the physical aspect.'