Chelsea assistant boss Gianfranco Zola says he understands Gary Cahill’s concerns and insists the defender will get a chance to impress Maurizio Sarri this season.
The England international admitted last week that he may seek to leave Stamford Bridge in January after failing to earn a first-team place under new Blues head coach Sarri.
The former Bolton and Aston Villa defender only made his first competitive appearance of the season as a substitute against West Ham last weekend but could make his first start against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s game at Anfield, Zola refused to criticise Cahill for going public about his concerns.
Conversely, Zola said he was encouraged by the defender’s reaction as it highlighted his commitment to the club.
The Italian also cited Cahill’s late return to pre-season after the World Cup as one reason behind his lack of competitive action and promised the defender he would get his chance.
“First of all, whether he plays or not tomorrow, it won’t be a reflection of what you’re saying,” said Zola when asked about Cahill’s apparent desire to leave.
“It’s totally understandable that Gary is upset. We want him to be upset. It means he cares. But he’s a top professional and is doing everything correctly.
“He just needs to be patient. He came back late, and the players were doing well. He will have his chances, and then it’s down to him to take his chances in the best way.”
Cahill revealed he was considering his Blues future after Thursday’s Europa League win over PAOK, where he was an unused substitute.
“I realise that sometimes you have to make tough decisions and football doesn’t wait for people,” Cahill said following his side’s win in Greece, as quoted by the Mirror.
“I don’t want to jump the gun but as things stand at this time, probably, yes [I might have to leave in January]. Whatever my future holds, in terms of the club, it will have been a huge part of my footballing life. I’ve got maximum respect for everybody here.”