JOHN TERRY is unsure when he will return to the Chelsea first team but said his knee felt "fine" after playing 45 minutes for the club's under-21 side last night.
Terry has missed 16 first-team games since suffering knee ligament damage against Liverpool on November 11, but he started the local derby against Fulham at the club's Cobham training ground.
With interim manager Rafael Benitez watching on from the stands, Terry had an early scare when his mistake almost let in Fulham, but otherwise he was rarely troubled in a calm and composed performance before being replaced at half-time following a goalless first half.
"I have come through alright," he told Chelsea TV. "Initially I was going to play between 30 and 45, so I managed to get through the first half and the knee feels totally fine which is the main thing.
"Lungs are a little bit... which is natural, but it is good to get in 45 under my belt. It has been a frustrating two months really.
"I felt fine, totally fine. Passing, tackling, everything felt fine. It's really positive to come through a game and hopefully give myself a chance to be back involved with the first team.
"The plan was to play a half, and who knows. He (Benitez) mentioned in the press conference in the week.
"Maybe it is too soon to get back starting. The lads have been playing well as well, so I know better than anybody I have to wait my time and be patient and try to get back in the squad first, then the team after that."
Terry's return to action will be a timely boost for Benitez following Wednesday night's League Cup semi-final first leg defeat to Swansea.
The Spaniard was booed by Chelsea supporters during the 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, a result which followed on from last week's shock home Premier League defeat by QPR.
Chelsea will now hope to get back on track this weekend when they go to Stoke, although it remains to be seen when Terry will be available again for first-team action.
After that match, the Blues have home fixtures against Southampton and Arsenal in the league before the League Cup semi-final return meeting against Swansea.