Cahill ready for England battle

Chelsea defender boosted by Champions League success

Gary Cahill: Aiming to add to his 10 caps when England face Moldova on Friday

England defender Gary Cahill believes he has answered any lingering doubts about his ability to play at the highest level.

The centre-back, 26, has seen his push for a regular place in the national side increased by his move to Champions League winners Chelsea in January.

He produced a series of assured displays during the Blues' shock triumph in Europe's elite competition and put himself in pole position to start Euro 2012 alongside John Terry in the heart of England's defence.

But the ex-Bolton player was ruled out of the tournament after breaking his jaw in the Three Lions' final warm-up against Belgium.

Hungry

"There was always that question mark above my head because of where I'd come from."

Gary Cahill

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Now he is hoping to start England's first competitive match since Euro 2012 when Roy Hodgson's men open their World Cup qualifying campaign in Moldova on Friday.

"I think the Champions League success with Chelsea, the wins over Barcelona and Bayern Munich, have helped me, have progressed me and given me the experience of playing in those games," he said.

"Before that, there was always that question mark above my head because of where I'd come from and I'd not played in those sort of games.

"People were saying 'can he play in those situations, in those sort of games?'

"It has made me more hungry to be part of those games, but experience wise, coming to England, which is top of the tree, it will help me going forward."

During Cahill's Euro 2012 absence, Manchester City's Joleon Lescott impressed alongside Terry in England's defence, while Everton's Phil Jagielka, another centre-back contender, scored in last month's friendly win against Italy.

Fight

But Cahill also started against the Italians and is aiming to retain the shirt for the Moldova clash.

"Now I'm back fit but there is real competition and I think myself not making the Euros has made it harder," he said.

"I thought the lads did well in the Euros so for me not being able to stamp authority in that tournament has made it another fight for me to get back involved and get the starting place.

"There is great competition and the lads who are picked want to keep hold of the shirt.

"It is going to be tough but it is a fight I've had since I've joined because we're blessed with some good players in England."