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The returning Blues boss insists his title-winning captain isn't assured of a place in his first team and says he will pick his best players without considering status or the past

Jose Mourinho has warned Chelsea players that they must earn their first-team place and cannot expect to play just because of their past endeavours.

The likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard sometimes struggled to feature consistently in the starting XI under interim boss Rafa Benitez and the Portuguese coach, who showed he is not shy of leaving out fan favourites having dropped Iker Casillas for the second half of last season at Real Madrid, claims his selection will be based solely on who he thinks is in the best form.

"I am a coach who looks for a meritocracy," Mourinho told Punto Pelota. "Whoever I think is best must play - without looking at status or the past. You play as you train, it is a normal situation.

"As it was normal for me to leave [Marco] Materazzi, a mythical player at Inter, on the bench. Or like Benitez this year at Chelsea with Terry.

"The fans can think that Iker is better than Diego [Lopez]. I accept that, but I am the coach. If they play or not, that is a problem for the player."

Mourinho was confirmed as returning to Chelsea on Monday having long been linked with a return to Stamford Bridge, following a breakdown in his relationship with Madrid players, fans and - crucially - the Santiago Bernabeu chiefs.

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