Cahill relieved to be back in favour

London (AFP) –


Gary Cahill admits he is relieved to be back in favour with England and Chelsea after a "frustrating" campaign.

Cahill found himself dropped by both England manager Gareth Southgate and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte at various times this term.

But the former Bolton defender worked his way back into Conte's plans in time to captain Chelsea to their FA Cup final victory over Manchester United earlier this month.

That success came just days after Southgate, impressed by Cahill's resurgence, had named the centre-back in England's 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia.

That was a big turnaround for Cahill after he was left out for England's friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy.

"I felt like my World Cup chances had taken a knock, missing out on that squad, especially that last squad just before you meet up was kind of a big squad to miss out on," Southgate said on Monday.

"I realised I really had to dig deep to try to perform from there until the end of the season to get myself back in the frame.

"Of course, last time I was disappointed, there was a lot going on in that time and I missed the squad. But I always had the belief that I could make the squad."

Cahill's focus in recent weeks had been on helping Chelsea to a strong end to the season, confident that it would improve his England prospects.

"First and foremost, I needed to get my place at Chelsea. We had a huge end to the season with the cup final," he said.

"If I'm totally honest that was all that was in my head, and I knew that if I performed well I'd be in with a shout, just like the rest of the boys who were competing for 23 places."

- Difficult season -

Cahill, the most experienced member of England's squad with 58 caps, added: "It's very difficult and frustrating when you don't play regularly. I've been lucky to do that for the majority of my career.

"If you're not out there on the pitch, you can't influence anything, and I know I'm capable of influencing it when I'm playing."

Once the World Cup is over, Cahill will return to Stamford Bridge hoping to make amends for a dismal Premier League season that saw the Blues finish fifth and miss out on a place in the Champions League.

There is constant speculation that Conte will be replaced before next term amid talk that he has fallen out with Chelsea stars due to his intense personality.

Cahill didn't express his desire for Conte to remain, but he insisted he had enjoyed working with the Italian.

"It's been a strange season, obviously there's been a lot of speculation for however many months now," he said.

"The season has finished on a high for us, we won a major trophy so that was a great end for everybody: for the fans, for the players and for the staff. What will be this summer, will be.

"He's been good for me, I've taken things from him, like I have the rest of the managers. I've enjoyed the success we've had together. He's been great."