Chelsea pre-match latest: Including Reading build-up and Butland snub

A round up of news and views ahead of the match at the Madejski tonight.

Ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Reading, John Terry has bemoaned the lack of fight the Blues have shown in recent matches, and demanded an improvement from his teammates. Terry made his return to the starting eleven in the 2-2 FA cup draw at Brentford, and has tried to impress upon his fellow players the importance of ensuring Champions League qualification.

Ex-Chelsea player Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has said the club currently lacks an identity, and questioned whether Benitez will fit into changing that in the long-term:

“What kind of club do they want to be? There have been a lot of changes over the last couple of years, so you have to look at those things and then decide whether Benitez will fit into that. It’s difficult to say whether he’s the right man for the long term."

Hasselbaink, who was never short of goals in his stint at Stamford Bridge, also defended Fernando Torres, and said he still believed the Spaniard could come good at Chelsea.

Jack Butland has reportedly snubbed the chance to hold talks with Chelsea about a move to Stamford Bridge as he wants to play first team football when he leaves Birmingham. The Blues had apparently met Birmingham’s £3.5 million asking price for the keeper.

Chelsea’s Next Gen side have qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament after an enthralling 3-3 draw with Ajax. Islam Feruz bagged a brace in the match, and the Blues will now face Barcelona in the first knock out round.

Rafa Benitez has said that his main concern is keeping the players onside, rather than the fans. Benitez has faced consistent opposition from Chelsea fans since his appointment, but he has said he is focussing on ensuring that his senior players are happy:

“We cannot control the perception from outside, but I can influence the players, explain things and analyse things.”

With David Luiz injured for tonight’s match, Gary Cahill is set to make his 50th Chelsea appearance, and the defender has been reflecting on a whirlwind first year at the Blues in an interview on the club’s website.

image: © joncandy

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