The former England defender returned from his four-match domestic suspension for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand to score the opening goal at Stamford Bridge, the 50th of his career, only to be clattered by Luis Suárez, who had been nudged in the back by Ramires, 10 minutes before half-time. Terry took the weight of the Uruguayan on his right leg, which buckled beneath him, and was left thumping the turf in agony before departing on a stretcher.
Terry underwent an MRI scan at 9am on Monday morning, which revealed there was "no significant damage" to his cruciate ligaments, the centre-half having apparently benefited from not planting his feet before Suárez's impact. As a result the ligaments do not appear to have been torn as his leg hyperextended. Had he ruptured the cruciate, as he had initially feared before departing the stadium on crutches and with his knee in a brace, his season would almost certainly have been over.
Chelsea will make a full diagnosis after reexamining the joint later in the week, once the swelling has receded, but are hopeful he could end up being out from as little as a fortnight to, at worst, six weeks. In a statement they said his recovery would be "a matter of weeks not months".
"He was unlucky to get injured but lucky his leg was on the floor and not up in the air, given that somebody of 60-70kgs landed on it," said the goalkeeper Petr Cech. "Let's just hope the injury doesn't leave him out for long because it was great to have him back.
"The knee is always painful when you injure it, and you know how strong a character John is so when you see him in pain you know there is something wrong. Normally with JT you can see his face and know he will be all right but you could see here straight away it was impossible for him to continue. We spoke to him in the dressing room at half-time and wished him the best of luck."
Terry required exploratory surgery on his right knee in February after initially bruising the joint in collision with a post during the FA Cup third-round victory over Portsmouth the previous month. He went on to aggravate that problem in a game at Loftus Road and ended up missing six weeks of the campaign, yet Cech is confident Chelsea boast better strength in depth this time around with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic all international centre-backs.
"We have players who will have the chance to impress the manager and do well, so I still have confidence," said Cech. "We have a large squad with quality defenders. It's always important to have people to step up and fill the gap. I hope we are going to deal with his loss. He has been injured in the past so knows what it takes to come back in good shape and as soon as possible. He always heals well and I believe he will come back soon."
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image: © Ronnie Macdonald