Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce says he will allow John Terry to decide whether he plays against Chelsea if the club gain promotion to the Premier League and he wants to trigger the 12-month option in his contract.
The former England captain chose to join Villa over several Premier League suitors last summer, in part because of his reluctance to face Chelsea. And Bruce said that he would not pick Terry against his old club if Villa win promotion back to the top flight.
“We’ll not pick him against Chelsea if that’s he wants,” said Bruce, whose Villa side face Fulham in the playoff final on Saturday. “All those phone calls to him last summer, he hasn’t been disappointed with it. From the training ground, to the stadium, to the support, it has all the makings of a big club.
“He has been one of the great defenders of our country. He is a great leader of men, which we don’t produce many of any more. In a quiet way, he is not a ranter and a raver, he is not one who puts heads through doors. He hasn’t exceeded expectations, I just knew what he would give.
“I’m sure he will give it a good go if we get promoted and enjoy the challenge of it.”
Terry has provided stability and leadership in 32 league appearances this season and Bruce is hoping that such qualities will prove vital again at Wembley.
“That’s what we’ve brought him for, not just to win a game on a Saturday but his overall contribution,” Bruce added. “He’s never let us down. What I realised straight away was I needed people who can handle playing for Aston Villa with the demand of a big club and intensity of a big club.
“Here you are straight under the pump. You have to play well and handle it. That is why I went down the route of bringing in the likes of [Glenn] Whelan and [Ahmed] Elmohamady, John Terry of course, [Mile] Jedinak.
“Slowly but surely we have tried to change it around. There were too many bad apples here and we haven’t got them any more.”
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.