John Terry could have a say in the Premier League title race after all and may return for Chelsea against Tottenham on May 2.
Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink on Friday revealed Terry, who has an Achilles injury, would travel to Bournemouth for Saturday’s match, with a view to a return to the squad against title-chasing Spurs.
Hiddink said: “John is very committed. He was very annoyed about his injury, but now recovering. He desperately wants to be with the team.
“I hope he will step up next week and we will see how it will go in the last couple of games.
“We play on Monday week. He has to step up, starting next week. He should be training with the group at least by Thursday (to be considered to face Spurs).”
Hiddink laughed when asked if Terry, who has missed nine of the last 11 matches, would undergo work experience on the south coast.
“It’s good to have (players) having the view from the other side, from the manager’s side,” the Dutchman added.
Terry had a six-game absence with a hamstring problem, made his 700th Chelsea appearance as a substitute at Everton and his 701st against West Ham on March 19, but has not played since.
The 35-year-old defender is out of contract this summer and revealed in January he would be leaving the Blues, who maintain the offer of a new one-year deal could be forthcoming.
Incoming head coach Antonio Conte will have a major say in the future of Terry, but Hiddink says the lack of current game time will not be a factor.
“They know what they have to offer each other,” Hiddink said.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois begins his two-match suspension after his second sending off of the season in last week’s 3-0 loss to Manchester City, with Asmir Begovic poised to deputise.
Forward Eden Hazard is in contention to return from a five-game absence with a hip/groin problem.
Hiddink said: “It’s not for the whole game, I think, but he is available to play.
“He was training very alive and that’s a good signal.”
Chelsea are 10th after successive losses to Swansea and City and play a Bournemouth side who defeated them 1-0 on December 5.
Hiddink, who succeeded the sacked Jose Mourinho on a caretaker basis later that month, watched that match from home when a disputed Glenn Murray goal earned the visitors a 1-0 victory.
“I don’t want to complain, but you brought it up: it was an offside goal,” said Hiddink, who acknowledged Chelsea benefited from a goal from an offside position when Terry equalised in a 3-3 draw with Everton in January.
“I was watching (thinking) ‘how is it possible?’ Chelsea being champions, losing, with all respect, to a club that had just come up to the Premier League.”
The Cherries were in League Two when Hiddink was first in charge of Chelsea in 2009 and lost to Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup the Dutchman won.
“It’s a fairytale story for them,” Hiddink said.