LONDON: England centre back Gary Cahill is so frustrated by a lack of first-team football at Chelsea that he wants to leave the club in an attempt to safeguard his international place at the European Championship in the summer.
The England vice captain has played more than 170 games for the Premier League champions but has made only 12 league appearances this season as Kurt Zouma and John Terry have become the preferred starters.
Cahill fears he might miss out on the Euros this summer if he is still not playing regularly, a source close to the player told Reuters.
While it could be too late to make the move before the current transfer window closes on Monday, Cahill is resigned to leaving the champions to ensure regular top-flight football.
The highly regarded defender, who cost Chelsea around £7 million ($10.02 million) when he joined from Bolton Wanderers in January 2012, says he may be at the “crossroads of his career”.
The 30-year-old made 10 starts at the beginning of the season before Jose Mourinho was sacked after 16 league games.
He has played only twice since Guus Hiddink took temporary charge on Dec. 19 — and one of those was in the FA Cup against third-tier Scunthorpe United.
The source said Cahill — who was appointed England vice-captain in September 2014 — was genuinely concerned about his chances of playing for his country in the European Championships in France if he is not playing regularly for his club.
While Cahill has been in and out of the Chelsea side, he has been a mainstay in England’s successful march to the Euros, playing in eight of their qualifiers as they won all 10 to sweep into the finals.
The defender captained his country for the first time in October’s European Championship Qualifying victory over Estonia at Wembley.
He won his 40th cap in the 2-0 friendly win over France in November but the emergence of Everton’s John Stones — a Chelsea target in the summer — and Manchester United’s Chris Smalling means he will have to fight for his place in the Euros.
Cahill in May last year became the fastest player in Premier League history to win all five possible major club trophies.
It took him a little over three years to clinch winners’ medals for the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League, League Cup and Premier League.