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Cahill thankful to avoid season-ending operation

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill feared he would need a season-ending operation to remove his gallbladder when he was hospitalised last week.

Cahill missed last Saturday's FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham but returned to score Chelsea's second in Tuesday night's 4-2 win over Southampton as the Blues moved within 12 points of the Premier League title.

It was a seventh goal of the season for Cahill, who has been Chelsea's on-field captain for much of the campaign and an integral figure in the Blues' bid for the double in Antonio Conte's first season as head coach.

The 31-year-old has managed a condition with his gallbladder, a small organ located in the midriff which stores bile to help break down fatty foods, throughout his career and spent two days in hospital last week.

A normal life can be led without a gallbladder, but surgery to remove it and the associated recovery time would have prohibited Cahill from playing for the rest of this season.

Chelsea had attributed his absence to gastroenteritis, which is related to Cahill's gallbladder issue.

Cahill said in the London Evening Standard: "It was causing me a lot of pain and that's why we went to hospital to check it all out. They kept me in to keep an eye on everything.

"It's something I've had since I was small. I have been aware of it and it is just a matter of keeping an eye on it.

"The worst thing at the time last week was if they had to take it out and that would have set me back for the season. I was happy that wasn't the case.

"There have been times when I know it's going to come on and I'd take some strong painkillers for it.

"Thankfully I got rid of the pain and recovered but it was just too late (for the Tottenham game)."

Cahill was a spectator at Wembley as Nathan Ake deputised but, after training on Sunday and Monday, immediately reclaimed his place in the starting XI alongside regular defensive partners David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta.

"Someone stood on my head (on Monday) so it feels like I have been in the wars," Cahill added.

Eden Hazard opened the scoring after five minutes against Saints only for former Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu to equalise.

Cahill climbed above Diego Costa's acrobatics to give Chelsea a half-time lead in a header reminiscent of team-mate John Terry.

Costa then scored twice in the second half - taking his tally to 51 Premier League goals in 85 appearances - before Ryan Bertrand, another former Chelsea player, scored a late consolation.

Terry came off the substitutes' bench for his 714th Chelsea appearance and first since it was announced he will leave the club this summer, after 22 years. He received a rousing ovation.

The 36-year-old club captain wrote on Instagram: "What a feeling coming on last night.

"I had goosebumps from the unbelievable reception I received from our fans. Thank you."

Chelsea next play at Everton on Sunday, while Southampton host Hull.

Romeu returned from a two-match suspension to score his first goal of the season against his former club.

"It's good to be back," the Spaniard said on southamptonfc.com.

"I always want to play and I always want to help the team and give the best account of myself.

"So it was enjoyable to be back out there again but sadly we couldn't win. Hopefully we can do that on Saturday in front of our own fans.

"We need to start winning games and thinking of getting as high in the table as possible."

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