Terry is set to wear the captain’s armband against Norwich this afternoon while he decides whether to appeal against his Football Association conviction for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
“At the moment he’s our captain and he’s available to play,” Di Matteo said, refusing to comment on the specifics of the FA ruling to avoid prejudicing any possible appeal by Terry.
But he was prepared to speak more generally about the issue of profane and abusive language on the pitch. While he denied ever having sworn at an opposition player, he recognised that it was a natural outlet for players who were being “pushed to the edge”.
He added: “It’s probably a little bit of a deeper issue, not just with footballers. There’s 40,000-50,000 in the stands, and you know how much swearing goes on there too. As a father, it’s about educating the next generation, to be more respectful and more acceptable towards each other. Whether it is realistic, I don’t know.
“When you are pushed to the edge of your abilities, you react in a way you don’t expect. Even people that are very rational and composed in a game can lose their composure a little bit. Sometimes you act in a way you will regret afterwards. It is difficult to understand for people who have never played team sport at the highest level.
“We have to improve on respecting each other in general,” he added. “It’s about respecting the opposition.”
Cole, too, will play despite his injudicious tweet. “I judge the players on what I see when they train and when they play,” Di Matteo said. “The social networks are a good vehicle if used appropriately. Players need to realise that tweets can be viewed by anybody, and they have to be responsible.”
Yet Di Matteo bemoaned the fact that off-the-field issues had again overshadowed his preparations for a Premier League match. “It’d be nice to talk about football,” he said. “In press conferences we talk about other stuff for three quarters of the time. Is anybody interested in Chelsea v Norwich tomorrow? The line-ups? The form of the two teams?”
Daniel Sturridge will again miss Saturday’s game after failing to recover in time from a hamstring injury that has also ruled him out of England’s forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.