Football: Gary Cahill could join Chelsea's defensive exodus

Gary Cahill celebrates after scoring the first goal for Chelsea  during the Uefa Champions League football match against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Gary Cahill celebrates after scoring the first goal for Chelsea during the Uefa Champions League football match against Maccabi Tel Aviv.PHOTO: REUTERS

WATFORD (AFP) - Chelsea defender Gary Cahill admits he could follow John Terry out of Stamford Bridge if he doesn't force his way back into the starting line-up on a regular basis.

Terry surprisingly revealed on Sunday that he is set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season after being told by the English Premier League club's hierarchy that he won't be offered a new deal when his current contract expires.

Ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash at Watford on Wednesday, a Blues spokesman claimed club captain Terry could still be asked to stay depending on the plans of the eventual successor to interim manager Guus Hiddink.

But Terry, 35, seems convinced his 18-year association with the Blues is coming to an end and worryingly for Chelsea's long-term planning, there is a chance fellow centre-back Cahill could join him at the exit door.

After starting just two league games since November, Cahill has grown disillusioned with his slide down the pecking order behind Terry and Kurt Zouma.

The England international, a Champions League and Premier League winner with Chelsea since arriving from Bolton in 2012, fears his sudden exile will damage his chances of featuring at Euro 2016 and could force him to take the unwanted step of considering joining a club who can satisfy his desire for first-team action.

"I did have a good chat with him, he was very approachable and it was beneficial, very positive," Cahill said of a recent meeting with Hiddink.

"Obviously I want to be at the club. I signed a four-year contract a couple of months ago so that shows I want to be here. I'm settled here, I've had a lot of success here and my family are settled here.

"But ultimately, I feel like I need to play football matches. I've always been that way; it's always been in my make-up to play a high percentage of games.

"It's a positive thing; you get people criticising players who are happy to sit on the bench and pick up their money but that's certainly not me. I want to be out there and be a big part of things if I possibly can."

Terry's revelation that he is on the way out could be a boost to Cahill's hopes of forcing his way back into the line-up in the long term.

But for now the 30-year-old, who is reportedly a target for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, will have to wait anxiously to see if he retains his place for the trip to Vicarage Road after starting alongside Terry in Sunday's 5-1 FA Cup fourth-round win at Milton Keynes Dons.

Unbeaten in eight games in all competitions since Hiddink replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho, Cahill says the troubled champions are slowly returning to peak form.

"Obviously the first half of the season was a disaster but we look like we're heading in the right direction at this moment in time," he said. "When you get results and don't lose games, it breeds confidence and everything kind of comes back. I wouldn't say we're totally there yet but we're definitely going in the right direction."

However, Chelsea's renaissance is likely to receive a stern test from a Watford side who, having already frustrated the Blues in a 2-2 draw on Boxing Day, would love to secure their first win over the west Londoners since September 1999.

Quique Sanchez Flores' team are four points above Chelsea in their first season back in the top flight and the Spanish coach puts that success down to his players' willingness to take responsibility.

"I trust a lot in the players, they are working really hard during the week," he said. "I've been working five, six months with this team, they deserve a lot of credit."