Terry in line for FA Cup spot with Cahill not fit

LONDON • Gary Cahill is unlikely to play in today's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur after spending two nights in hospital this week with a mystery virus.

The Chelsea and England defender was discharged on Thursday after an improvement, but may not have time to prove his fitness to play at Wembley.

The virus suffered by Cahill followed the bug that afflicted Chelsea's players before last weekend's Premier League defeat away by Manchester United, when Marcos Alonso was forced to withdraw shortly before kick-off.

Victor Moses and Diego Costa were also affected.

While Moses - who was substituted after 54 minutes - and Costa were fit enough to start the game against United and have trained since, Cahill succumbed to illness on Tuesday, when he was taken to hospital.

Cahill's illness may propel John Terry into contention for a place against Tottenham.

The 36-year-old former England captain confirmed this week that he will leave the club at the end of the summer, having rarely featured under Antonio Conte.

Terry has managed only 366 minutes in the Premier League, and only six since limping away from the draw at Swansea on Sept 11, but has made three starts in the FA Cup, and would be a natural replacement for Cahill .

However, the Italian manager has favoured Kurt Zouma of late and could even consider Nathan Ake, underused since his return from a loan spell at Bournemouth, in his backline against Tottenham.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who hurt an ankle while playing basketball at a Chelsea promotional shoot last week, is expected to feature at Wembley having trained this week.

Yet the potential loss of Cahill, voted alongside David Luiz in the PFA's Premier League team of the year, would represent a blow for Conte as his side seek to recover lost momentum after having their lead in the Premier League cut to four points with six games to go.

Tottenham are their closest rivals, and on an eight-match winning streak in all competitions, with the chance to inflict a psychological blow on bitter rivals very obvious.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Terry in line for FA Cup spot with Cahill not fit'. Print Edition | Subscribe