Cahill hails Neville influence

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Centre-back Gary Cahill has credited coach Gary Neville for helping England toughen up defensively and feels the team are becoming more savvy on the field, having been “too nice” in the past.

The Three Lions have moved on from their failure at the summer’s World Cup by winning all four of their games that have followed, with three of those being Euro 2016 qualifiers.

They have also – starting from the 0-0 draw with Costa Rica that concluded their campaign in Brazil – put together a run of clean sheets that will extend to a record-equalling tally of six if the Group E leaders register another in Saturday’s qualifier against Slovenia at Wembley.

Those shut-outs are something Cahill says he and his international team-mates are “really proud” of.

And when asked about the influence Neville is having as he assists boss Roy Hodgson, Cahill said of the former England and Manchester United full-back: “He was a fantastic defender.

“And he likes being hard, and tough to play against, being physical – almost like old-school, whereby you let the attackers know they are in a game and feel your presence, just by being aggressive and getting tight to them.

“It’s something we’ve certainly addressed. We are definitely a lot harder to play against defensively.

“It is about being physical and wanting to win the ball back and putting tackles in – the basics of defending, really. I think at the minute we are doing that really well.”

Wayne Rooney suggested after the 2-1 loss to Uruguay at the World Cup that England needed to be more streetwise, and Cahill thinks the team are developing more of an edge mentally as well as physically.

“I think at times we’ve been too nice, and it (changing that) comes with experience,” Cahill said.

“It’s a big part of the game – knowing when to slow things down, or when not to play from the back.

“It’s just managing the game really, which maybe we are doing a lot better.”

Cahill has certainly been having a successful time as part of an unbeaten Chelsea side who are currently top of the Barclays Premier League.

And the 28-year-old believes England are starting to show some of the “game management” the Blues appear so expert at.

When put to him that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is a master of that art, Cahill said: “Yes, exactly – it’s a part of our play at Chelsea and that’s because there is so much experience in that squad.

“But it’s something that’s coming into the make-up with England, and I think that’s another reason why we are progressing.”

Cahill is not convinced Chelsea can go the whole Premier League season unbeaten – “it’s tough, we’re not even at Christmas yet” he said – but his confidence in England is such that he rates it as “likely” that the Three Lions will retain their 100 per cent record for the whole of this qualifying campaign.

And with regard to his international manager Hodgson, Cahill has backed the 67-year-old to lead England beyond Euro 2016.

There has been talk this week about the possibility of the Football Association extending Hodgson’s current contract, which runs out after the 2016 tournament in France.

And asked if he thought Hodgson was the right man to continue taking England forward long-term, Cahill said: ”Yes – I think he has been great for us.

“The manager has addressed things he wanted to address and it is working at the minute for us.

”We are building and going in the right direction. Everyone is behind the manager.”

England skipper Rooney is set to win his 100th cap in Saturday’s match, which Cahill has no doubt is a ”fantastic achievement”, particularly given the Manchester United man is only 29.

Cahill, holder of 31 caps himself, regards the forward as a “world-class player” and believes he will break both Peter Shilton’s England appearances record of 125 and Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal record of 49, which Rooney currently trails by six.

Cahill said: ”I personally think he can break both records.

”He will be reaching 100 caps at the weekend, and for someone as young as he is, that is such a fantastic achievement.

”I don’t see why not. He is a fantastic footballer and I’m sure he will be in the set-up for many more years to come.”

Meanwhile, Cahill has stressed he only sat out England training on Tuesday as a precaution due to a minor hip issue that should present “no problem” in terms of his availability for Saturday’s game.

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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