LONDON: Chelsea defender Gary Cahill insists he can handle the pressure of replacing John Terry in tomorrow's Champions League final against Bayern Munich even though he will be playing in the first major showpiece occasion of his career.
Cahill has made a timely recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered early in the second leg of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final in Barcelona and, with captain Terry and fellow defender Branislav Ivanovic both suspended, he expects to line up alongside David Luiz in central defence.
After missing the FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool earlier this month, England international Cahill admits he was determined to feature at the Allianz Arena this week and his return is a major boost to Blues interim manager Roberto Di Matteo.
"That was a massive blow to me to miss the FA Cup. I was sick when I got the injury because I knew that would be the case straight away," Cahill said.
"That would have been a big moment in my career so to make this one will be huge.
"I always had the goal to be fit for this game and thankfully it has healed quickly."
Di Matteo is relieved that Cahill and Luiz will be able to start against Bayern, but the Italian could still be forgiven for feeling nervous about how the pair, who have played together only occasionally since Cahill's January move from Bolton, will cope with Bayern forwards Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez.
However, Di Matteo will have been impressed to hear Cahill insist that he is up to the task of standing in for the demonstrative Terry and expects no problems forming a solid defensive wall with Luiz.
"With the quality John has and the leadership he carries around, he is a big presence in our squad. But I speak when I am on the pitch as well, that is how I am," Cahill said.
"He won't be playing but he will be there in our dressing room and will be a big part of the day." AFP