From December 2018 to mid-April, Gary Cahill did not make a Premier League squad for Chelsea — a stretch of 15 matches.
This season, the former England international is has undergone a dramatic fall from grace at Stamford Bridge. Once a consistent starter, team captain, as well as a Premier League and Champions League winner, the Englishman has been relegated to being a squad player in west London.
Maurizio Sarri has deemed Cahill surplus to requirements, and with his contract running out in the summer he seems destined to depart the club.
But a recent injury crisis has handed the centre-back a spot on the bench again, leading to the prospect of the 33-year-old potentially playing some part in Chelsea’s run-in.
After Antonio Rudiger went down injured against Liverpool, Cahill returned to the bench against Burnley. Although the German quickly returned to the fold against Manchester United, the recurrence of his knee injury will offer the ex-captain a place on the bench for the rest of the season.
While the first-choice centre-back pairing remains David Luiz and Andreas Christensen, Cahill will be hoping to return to the side for the first time since November.
In addition to the Premier League, Chelsea have Europa League commitments, and fixture congestion might provide opportunities for him to get off the bench.
If the exiled centre-back were to come back, win the Europa League and secure Champions League qualification, it would be a fitting end to Cahill’s Chelsea career.