Gary Cahill believes England team-mate Ashley Cole proved his professionalism on his return to action in their 1-0 win over Denmark, after impressing despite a lack of first-team opportunities. Cole has found playing time difficult of late, having not featured for Chelsea since their Premier League win over Stoke City back in January.
However, the man who has been almost an England ever-present at left-back in recent years put in a sterling performance during the opening period and his Blues team-mate feels it reflects his commitment to the game. “I asked him after the game how he felt and he said 'great', and I thought he looked great,” Cahill said, following the Wembley victory.
With this England's last game before Roy Hodgson selects his provisional squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, it was important not to miss a final chance to shine amongst the side, and Cahill feels Cole made his 45 minutes on the field count. “When you've been out for a few games you can often look rusty but I didn't think that was the case at all, he looked really, really sharp.
“He has shown that he is one of the best left-backs in the country over the 100-odd caps he has got, he's a great footballer. Today he dropped straight back in and that was obviously pleasing to see, and I'm sure it was for the gaffer as well.”
Cole's spell on the sidelines is something of an unusual situation for the former Arsenal man, but Cahill revealed there has been no change in the veteran's approach behind the scenes. “I'm sure this is a new thing for him because during his career he has been blessed, because he is such a good player, to play nearly every minute of every game when he has been fit.
“At the same time he's professional, goes about his work and trains hard. He gets his head down and works hard, that's the way he is. You don't get to be as successful as he has by not doing that.”
The win over Denmark, secured with a 81st minute goal from Daniel Sturridge was England's first victory after booking their place at Brazil 2014, in a 2-0 home win over Poland, back in October. With Wembley defeats to Chile and Germany since then, it was a vital result in Cahill's eyes.
“We had to be patient tonight and wait until the end to make the breakthrough, but thankfully Danny got it. I think after all the pressure of qualification we were [a bit drained] in the last few friendlies and I feel it was important to get back to winning ways and tonight it was a positive performance.”
With only their displays at club level now between England's showing against Denmark and Roy Hodgson naming his provisional 35-man squad on 13 May, Cahill believes it will be a tense time for all the potential Three Lions representatives and a tough one for the coach himself.
“I'm sure the manager is going to have a headache when the time comes to select his squad, but it's going to be a big couple of months for every English player from now until the end of the season,” he concluded.