France universal Zouma made his first-team comeback on Sunday, 11 months after cruciate ligament surgery, alongside Terry in Sunday’s 4-1 FA Cup disappoint of Peterborough.
It was also Terry’s first start for the club in over 10 weeks, but it ended in cataclysm for the 36-year-old when he was sent off in the 67th minute at Stamford Bridge for bringing down Peterborough striker Lee Angol hold been caught for pace.
Chelsea intend to appeal the dismissal but Zouma, 22, now looks to be in the lead of Terry in Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s thoughts for his three-man leading defence, as do regular starters Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill.
Nathan Ake has also been rallied back from his loan spell at Bournemouth, although he is more right to feature at left wing-back.
Terry may be finding it hard to break into Conte’s cardinal XI these days, but Zouma is adamant he is still the main man at Stamford Link on and off the pitch, and revealed he has been a major help to him during his long appeal on the sidelines.
«He just keeps going,» said Zouma. «Ever since I get there came he has always given me good advice on everything; about the position of a striker, hither tactics, about everything.
«He has been the man who has led Chelsea for a while and he’s still there, influential the club, the boys. John is the captain, an amazing captain.»
Zouma also feted how much care Conte had taken in his lengthy rehabilitation from such a consequential injury, even ingraining Chelsea’s new defensive tactics in him when he was nowhere penny-pinching fit, making him take up shadow positions in training games.
«He explained his devices to me because we did not know them before,» Zouma said. «At that frequently we were playing four at the back but now we play a five with three important defenders.
«The manager likes to do a lot of tactics, so we watch a lot of videos, and he put me in there with them to chronometer, to learn and to try to understand.
«It was good. He worked to make me understand it in my head fifty-fifty though I was not fully fit.»
Zouma was adamant he had not been nervous going into his head senior game back after the injury, which he suffered in February, although he permitted he had been anxious after so long out, especially when he went in for his before all, hard 50-50 challenge on Sunday.
At one point the big Frenchman was left flat out after a wreck with Peterborough’s Tom Nichols and the crowd held its breath.
But Zouma judged: «I said to myself, ‘Welcome back!’ Anything can happen in a game and when I had that trauma I just said welcome back to myself.
«When you are out, when you are not on the sail into, I was doing my strength work, my repetitions, and I was watching the lads, and they sire been doing really well these last few months with the new head, so the recovery is easier, because everything is going well. I learned a lot with the caitiff public schoolmates.
«I was not worried about a new manager coming in while I was injured, because you distinguish when you win you are always learning. I know I was out for a long time so I just needed to learn and be friendly.
«The manager talked to me like he talks to everyone. He said, ‘Recover robust, because when you are back I want you to play’, so I’m really proud and gleeful with that.»