Chelsea manager Di Matteo prays QPR players won't stir controversy
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has confirmed John Terry and Ashley Cole are expected to take part in the potentially explosive pre-match handshake with QPR's Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road today.
Terry and Cole have recovered from the ankle injuries which ruled them out of England’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on Tuesday and that means the duo are in line for a showdown with QPR defender Ferdinand.
In July, Chelsea captain Terry was cleared in court of racially abusing Ferdinand during an EPL match at QPR last year, with Cole giving evidence as a character witness for his teammate. Terry, who was stripped of the England armband by the Football Association before his trial, is still facing a separate FA charge over the incident and that hearing is expected to begin on September 24.
Ferdinand, Terry and Cole are set to come face to face today for the first time since the trial and the EPL have insisted the pre-match handshake, which was cancelled ahead of the clubs’ last two meetings, will go ahead.
Reports claim Ferdinand is planning to ignore Terry and Cole during the traditional greeting, while some of his QPR teammates may also refuse to shake hands with the Chelsea defenders. With bad feeling still lingering, Chelsea and QPR officials have held talks in a bid to defuse the tension, but Di Matteo insists his players will all take part in the handshake as usual. “We’ll go ahead with it, yes,” said Di Matteo.
“We’re going to respect the rules and the protocol that is in place from the Premier League and set a positive standard to the millions of people watching across the world.”
“They’ve recovered (from injury), had a couple of days training and we expect them to be available for tomorrow (Saturday).”
Di Matteo revealed he had held talks with QPR manager Mark Hughes, a former team-mate of the Italian at Chelsea, but did not know whether the home players would snub Terry and Cole. “I do not know, but I hope that they will as well respect the rules and go ahead with it and we can all focus on the football,” Di Matteo added.