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Gary Cahill: I always believed I would make England’s World Cup squad

Cahill acknowledged that being dropped in March came as a blow.

Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill was not worried about missing out on World Cup selection despite being omitted from Gareth Southgate’s squad for England’s games against Holland and Italy earlier this year.

The defender was overlooked for the March friendlies during a period where he was uncertain of starting for Chelsea – although he regained his place in the Blues line-up towards the end of the campaign.

Cahill acknowledged that being dropped came as a blow but a late-season flourish saw him included in England boss Southgate’s 23-man squad to travel to Russia.

Speaking about being overlooked for international duty in the spring, he said: “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.

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

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

“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.”

Cahill, the most experienced member of England’s squad with 58 caps, said of being overlooked by club and country: “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.”

Turning his attention briefly to his club, the Chelsea captain admitted it has been a “strange season”, with the Blues finishing fifth in the Premier League 12 months after romping to the title.

Speculation has been rife that boss Antonio Conte could depart the club this summer and though Cahill did not clearly express his desire for the Italian to remain, he says he has enjoyed working with him.

He said: “It’s been a strange season, obviously there’s been a lot of speculation for however many months now.

“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.”