Antonio Conte insisted that John Terry did not deserve to be sent off in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Peterborough, and suggested that Chelsea will appeal their captain’s red card.
Goals from Michy Batshuayi, Willian and a double from Pedro earned Chelsea a 4-1 win over their League One opponents, but Terry was dismissed in the 67th minute by referee Kevin Friend for bringing down Lee Angol as the last man.
After the match, Conte claimed that Terry’s red card was harsh and indicated that Chelsea will seek to overturn the punishment.
“I think the decision wasn’t right,” Conte said. “Firstly, he didn’t take the opponent and secondly behind John was [Branislav] Ivanovic to cover. It’s a pity when this happens.
“When you get a red card it’s not good, you have to respect the referee’s decision, but in this case maybe we will appeal because the situation is very clear, John didn’t deserve this.”
Terry looked rusty on his first Chelsea appearance since November and his red card prompted further speculation about whether this season will be his last as a player at Stamford Bridge. But Conte declined to clarify his captain’s future.
“Now we are in January,” Conte said. “First of all, these decisions need to be made with the club, not alone. I’m pleased for John because he’s shown me great commitment when I’ve asked him to play and also when he doesn’t. He’s helping me a lot in the changing room. He’s proving himself to be a good player and, above all, a good man.”
The match was also notable for Kurt Zouma completing his 11-month recovery from a knee injury to return to the starting XI, while £33 million summer signing Batshuayi was also given a rare chance to impress.
“Zouma came back after 11 months and played 90 minutes, which is fantastic for him, his family and the club,” Conte said. “The young players — [Nathaniel] Chalobah, Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and [Ola] Aina — showed me they are growing. Michy played a good game and scored a goal, so there were a lot of positives.
“Michy played a good game. During the game he stayed with our philosophy and idea of football. He showed me great commitment and work-rate and it’s always important for a forward’s confidence to score.
“He has to continue to work in this way. He’s young, he’s improving and he showed that today. It’s important for him to give me the opportunity to have another solution.”
Chelsea’s defensive options were further bolstered on Sunday by the return of Nathan Ake from loan at Bournemouth, and Conte revealed that he believes the Dutchman can help him in a number of positions.
“I called him back because I think he’s showing that he’s ready to stay in the squad of Chelsea,” Conte said of Ake. “Chelsea is his home. In the last season he played with Watford, and this season he was with Bournemouth. He’s shown he deserves to stay at a great team like Chelsea. I’m pleased he’s come back.
“Ake gives me an important option because we are playing with three central defenders. He can play on the left and in the middle. It’s important to see in training sessions if he can also play wing-back.”