GARY CAHILL INSISTS he will be fit to start the Champions League final — a game he admits will be the biggest of his career.
The Chelsea centre-back gave caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo a major selection boost ahead of Saturday’s showdown against Bayern Munich by returning to full training yesterday afternoon.
Cahill has been on the sidelines since suffering a hamstring injury 12 minutes into the Blues’ semi-final second leg triumph over Barcelona at Camp Nou three weeks ago. But the defender revealed that his rehabilitation has gone well and is confident that, no further alarms permitting, he will be available for selection in Munich.
“I feel okay,” said Cahill, speaking at Chelsea’s Cobham training headquarters. ”It was my first full session with the boys today after my injury, so nice to get back out there and get running around and kicking a ball about.
“There’s some work to be done in two or three days now leading up to the game for me to get back into it. And if I need to do a little bit of other training, I’ll do that. But, touch wood, there’s no reaction from today and I felt fine out there.
“I’m just happy that it’s healed quickly. We’ve worked really hard, all day, afternoons, and I’m fortunate enough to be back. Hopefully, I will be fit, and hopefully I’ll be out there if selected.”
The England international, 26, who joined Chelsea from Bolton in January, has no doubts where Saturday’s clash ranks in his list of high-profile fixtures.
“For sure, the biggest game,” he said. “I think it’s the biggest game for probably many of the boys. We’re under no illusions how big the game is. It’s going to be a good night and, hopefully, it goes to plan.
“We need to show the resilience we did against Barcelona in the two legs. We need to work hard and, at the minute, we’ve been doing that in the recent games leading up to this final.
“That’s how we’ve been getting our rewards. It’s one game and we know it’s going to be tough, but we’ll be ready for it. We should take confidence from the two Barcelona games, for sure. To overcome them, that’s a massive step. But we’ve got to show the spirit that we showed in those two games and a bit of composure for the final,” he added.
Behind enemy lines
Cahill admits the atmosphere will be extra special because of the importance attached to the match, which will be played at the Allianz Arena, Bayern’s home stadium.
“It’ll be huge,” he said. “It’s strange, isn’t it, when they’ll be playing at home. I find that really strange. Is that a positive for them? Probably so, because they know the pitch and whatnot. But, at the same time, we’ll have the same amount of fans there, and they’ll be huge for us — like they are every time we play.
“So I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s going to be electric, the atmosphere there.”
Cahill believes the significance of the occasion will really strike the players when they hear pre-match strains of the Champions League music.
“It’s just like when the national anthem plays for England, isn’t it? It’s that sort of feeling. You just get the buzz that you’re in this game and you’re in a big game, and a proud moment, really,” he said.
“It is a sort of hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment when you hear it and it gets you fired up for the game. But I don’t think we’ll need any of that for this game. Everyone knows how big the game is.”