LONDON (Reuters) – England defender Gary Cahill is a key player for Chelsea and will be staying despite his frustration at a lack of starts for the Premier League champions this season, interim manager Guus Hiddink said on Friday.
“He is of big value and I will prove that in the upcoming time,” the Dutchman, who took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho last month, told reporters ahead of an FA Cup fourth-round match at second tier MK Dons on Sunday.
“Of course players who aren’t playing frequently, they must get frustrated,” added Hiddink. “I spoke to him days ago about the situation, which I always like to do with key players.
“Recently he signed a new contract, which is a signal he loves the club and likes to be here. Sometimes players have a little period where they don’t play frequently … but everyone will get their minutes to play.”
A source close to the player told Reuters this week that the 30-year-old feared he might miss out on this year’s European Championship if he was not playing more regularly.
The frustration was such that the player, who signed a new four-year contract in December, felt he might have to leave.
The England vice-captain has played more than 170 games for Chelsea but has made only 12 league appearances this season as Kurt Zouma and John Terry have become preferred starters.
A mainstay of England’s march to Euro 2016, Cahill has played just twice since Hiddink took charge.
Chelsea are 13th in the league, 19 points adrift of leaders Leicester City, but still fighting in the Champions League — with Paris St Germain standing between them and a place in the last eight — and FA Cup.
Hiddink also confirmed that Chelsea were set to bring in 20-year-old U.S. international defender Matt Miazga from New York Red Bulls.
“He will be one of the squad members for the rest of the season, a young guy stepping up to the national team, and if you have young players you can see what they are capable of in training,” the manager said.
Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato is also in the process of joining on loan after arriving in London on Wednesday.
“Pato is in London. He was well spotted,” said Hiddink. “There are no secrets. He’s now in the process of paperwork. We won’t rush it and soon he can go on the pitch.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)