Chelsea captain Gary Cahill does not feel he has to prove himself to club or country after returning to Antonio Conte's starting XI.
The England defender was a mainstay in Chelsea's 2016-17 Premier League title triumph but has struggled for his best form this time around – somewhat encapsulating the Blues' limp defence of a crown that now lies in Manchester City's possession.
Cahill, 32, looked on as an unused substitute for matches against City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Barcelona over recent months but turned in an assured display at the heart of Conte's back three in Sunday's comfortable 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win against Southampton at Wembley.
He has now started all four Chelsea matches since defeat to Spurs at the start of the month – their first game back from the March international break when Cahill was omitted from Gareth Southgate's England squad in favour of the then-uncapped duo James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson.
"I've been there before," said the centre-back before making a bullish defence of his credentials.
"I've been fortunate to have played the majority of the time I've been at this club. I've enjoyed success and I feel like I've been a big part of success – not just involved in winning trophies but involved heavily.
"So I feel I can contribute when I'm out there. But it's the manager's decision."
The prospect of England or Chelsea lining up without Cahill seemed unthinkable when he hoisted the Premier League trophy alongside John Terry 11 months ago.
Nevertheless, he is accepting of a relative fall from grace since the turn of the year and aiming to hit top form as Conte's men try to apply pressure on Liverpool and Tottenham above them in the final two top-four berths.
"Every time you come out of the team I know you don't just disappear, you don't just become a bad player overnight," Cahill said.
"Form, if you ride it out, means you come back to the level you should be at. I thought I played well against Southampton, did well against Burnley [Chelsea won 2-1 at Turf Moor last Thursday].
"I realise that's the situation for everybody, I realise the manager has decisions to make and I realise maybe I'm not getting any younger – far from it. But I'm fit and ready to go.
"I don't have to be going out with nerves, feeling that I have to prove things to everybody. I think I've done that before if you look over my career – playing in the Champions League, playing in the Premier League and playing for England.
"If I'm happy with the way I'm playing that's good enough for me because I know I'm at the level I should be. I'm my worst critic when I'm playing."
While qualifying for the Champions League is likely to prove out of reach for Chelsea, Cahill has another major honour and a second trip to a World Cup with England firmly in his sights.
"This is what playing football is all about – trying to reach finals and trying to lift trophies. We have the opportunity to do that now," he added.
"Let's see what happens at the end of the season. We're into the final now, the World Cup's coming. Let's wait and see."
20 de enero 2019
|Manchester City reach 100 goals in 2018-19|
|Australia v Uzbekistan: Leckie´s return is ´like a new signing´, says Arnold|
|Jordan 1 Vietnam 1 (aet, 2-4 on penalties): Keeper Van Lam the shoot-out hero|
|Federer confirms French Open return after Melbourne exit|
|I accept his decision - Gattuso axes Chelsea-bound Higuain|
|The rapid rise of Federer-conqueror Tsitsipas|
|Gracious Federer hails ´better player´ Tsitsipas after Australian Open exit|
|Tsitsipas ´happiest man on earth´ after stunning Federer|
|Harden focused on wins, not personal feats after scoring 48 points|
|PSG midfielder Verratti suffers sprained ankle|
|Inspired Tsitsipas dethrones Federer|
|PSG´s Cavani considering career finale in Uruguay|
|Feisty Collins ready to make more noise after thrashing Kerber|
|I´ve got to work on my soccer skills! - Mavs´ Doncic didn´t know ejection rule|
|Lakers won´t rush LeBron & Rondo back despite Ball injury|
|A-League Review: Victory fightback in thriller with Wellington|
|Henry explains foul-mouthed confrontation with Strasbourg´s Lala|
|Nadal wary of ´dangerous´ Tiafoe|
|Emery ´not positive´ over Bellerin injury|
|Harden scores 48 points as Rockets rally past Lakers in OT|
|Pacquiao wants Mayweather rematch after beating Broner|
|Sharapova unimpressed with questions after Melbourne exit|
|Nadal outclasses Berdych en route to quarters|
|Collins trounces 2016 Aus Open champion Kerber|
|Sanchez: Man United thriving thanks to Solskjaer|
|Sharapova crashes out of Australian Open|
|Devils´ Palmieri replaces Hall on NHL All-Star roster|
|Tuchel stunned by PSG´s nine-goal thrashing of Guingamp|
|Modric wants to extend Real Madrid stay|
|Marotta: Icardi will re-sign, Godin wants Inter|
|´F*** no!´ - Westbrook on if he´s cool with Embiid|
|Mickelson shoots 66 to stay ahead at Desert Classic|
|Real Madrid? You never know what the future holds - PSG´s Mbappe|
|Inter lacked quality in disappointing Sassuolo draw - Spalletti|
|Walton has one goal for Lakers-Rockets matchup: Keep Harden under 50 points|
|CAF Champions League Review: Simba learn Vita lesson as Sundowns find form|
19 de enero 2019
|Bayliss relishing pressure of World Cup and Ashes to finish England reign|
|Guardiola keen to keep City rhythm and challenge on four fronts|
|Fifita backs Johnson to inspire the Sharks|
|For Real Madrid, nothing is impossible - Solari refuses to give up in title race|
|Inter 0 Sassuolo 0: Spalletti´s side labour at sparse San Siro|
|Marshawn Lynch will continue playing ´if it works out´|
|Simeone excited by improving Atleti|
|Jones ´cautiously optimistic´ over Farrell ahead of Ireland clash|
|Sarri questions Chelsea motivation after Arsenal surrender|
|Emery urges Arsenal to find balance after downing Chelsea|
|Koscielny hails Arsenal fighting spirit in Chelsea win|
|Pellegrini: It was not a good idea for Arnautovic to play|
|Iran v Oman: We´re not satisfied yet, says Al Mahaijri|
|Carbery sends Munster through and ends Exeter´s lingering Champions Cup hopes|
|Dyche defiant despite offside call|
|Hasenhuttl rates Everton win as Southampton´s best|
|Benitez looking up the table after Schar inspires win over Cardiff|
|RB Leipzig 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Witsel restores six-point cushion|
|Swansea City 1 Sheffield United 0: McBurnie punishes wasteful Blades|
|Cardiff sign Sala from Nantes for club-record fee|
|Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0: Lacazette and Koscielny fire Gunners to rousing derby win|
|Huesca 0 Atletico Madrid 3: Dominant Atleti keep pressure on Barca|
|Rashford arguably league´s best striker with Kane out - Solskjaer|
|Hafeez plays steady hand as Pakistan punish Proteas´ patient approach|
|Klopp: Exceptional Salah would have scored even more up front!|
|Suspected ´serious´ Verratti injury leaves Tuchel with mixed emotions|
|We needed to rediscover our best form - Ramos pleased for Real Madrid fans|
|City bought Guardiola four full-backs! - Mourinho aims dig at Man Utd transfer policy|
|Valverde ´not frustrated´ amid De Jong & Vela links|
|Championship Review: Leaders Leeds beaten at Stoke as Villa end Hull run|
|Bournemouth rode their luck, admits Howe|
|Barca boss Valverde calls for clarity on RFEF rules|
|Bears rack up 107 points in routing Enisei en route to quarter-finals|
|Paris Saint-Germain 9 Guingamp 0: Verratti injured for rampant champions|