John Terry could have played his final game for Chelsea following his sending-off at Sunderland.
Terry was dismissed for the second time this season and the sixth time in the Barclays Premier League for two bookable offences late on as the Blues lost 3-2 at the Stadium of Light and will now be banned for the midweek trip to Liverpool and Sunday’s visit of champions Leicester.
As a result, the 35-year-old defender, who made his debut in October 1998 and is out of contract this summer, appears to have pulled on the blue shirt for the last time after revealing in January that he would be leaving Stamford Bridge.
The club has insisted an offer may be forthcoming, with incoming head coach Antonio Conte having a major say in the final decision, but there has been no sign of one so far and current boss Guus Hiddink remains uncertain over the former England defender’s future.
Asked if Terry’s appearance on Wearside would be his last, Hiddink said: “For the club, I don’t know, but it’s sad, of course, that he was sent off for a second yellow, and it’s the second sending-off, which by the rules means he will suspended (for both games).
“I think the referee [Mike Jones] was too close to the incident. Normally we say, ‘Referee, be close to what can happen’, but I think he was too close and an impulsive reaction made him draw the yellow card.
“With a little bit more distance, 10 yards more, he could have thought, ‘Hey, these two guys went intensively for the duel’ – it was an intense game and he has to consider a bit the intensity of the game and this duel as well.
“He was too close, for me, and took too harsh a decision.”
Terry, whose previous sending-off this season came at West Brom in August, has missed some memorable moments with Chelsea through suspension.
He was banned for the 2012 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich but joined the celebrations in his full kit, a protocol dictated by UEFA.
Reports on Friday suggested Terry had hired Stamford Bridge for a private party.
He has been linked with a move to China, the Middle East and Major League Soccer, but given his reluctance to face Chelsea and their absence from Europe next season, could move to another European club.
Asked if it would be a sad way for Terry to end his Chelsea career, Hiddink said: “Yes, of course.
“We don’t know what his future is at this moment but for this season, it’s sad because it would have been lovely to have had in our last game at home, the Leicester game, the champions and have a very nice party game, let’s call it that, and it’s sad that he is not participating in that.”
Terry cut a disconsolate figure in the away dressing room after the game with Hiddink revealing: “Of course, he was sitting and staring – when players and coaches are defeated, after a game, then everyone is sitting and staring a bit and then, of course, thinking a lot.
“I haven’t talked to him so far, but you can imagine a bit the mood.”
Meanwhile, Hiddink admitted his disappointment after seeing the Blues twice take the lead at the Stadium of Light before Jermain Defoe snatched victory 20 minutes from time.
He said: “We are disappointed, of course, with the result because we like to win every game, which is not always possible and that has been the reality of today.”