Chelsea captain Gary Cahill does not feel he has to prove himself to club or country after returning to Antonio Conte's starting XI.
The England defender was a mainstay in Chelsea's 2016-17 Premier League title triumph but has struggled for his best form this time around – somewhat encapsulating the Blues' limp defence of a crown that now lies in Manchester City's possession.
Cahill, 32, looked on as an unused substitute for matches against City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Barcelona over recent months but turned in an assured display at the heart of Conte's back three in Sunday's comfortable 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win against Southampton at Wembley.
He has now started all four Chelsea matches since defeat to Spurs at the start of the month – their first game back from the March international break when Cahill was omitted from Gareth Southgate's England squad in favour of the then-uncapped duo James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson.
"I've been there before," said the centre-back before making a bullish defence of his credentials.
"I've been fortunate to have played the majority of the time I've been at this club. I've enjoyed success and I feel like I've been a big part of success – not just involved in winning trophies but involved heavily.
"So I feel I can contribute when I'm out there. But it's the manager's decision."
The prospect of England or Chelsea lining up without Cahill seemed unthinkable when he hoisted the Premier League trophy alongside John Terry 11 months ago.
Nevertheless, he is accepting of a relative fall from grace since the turn of the year and aiming to hit top form as Conte's men try to apply pressure on Liverpool and Tottenham above them in the final two top-four berths.
"Every time you come out of the team I know you don't just disappear, you don't just become a bad player overnight," Cahill said.
"Form, if you ride it out, means you come back to the level you should be at. I thought I played well against Southampton, did well against Burnley [Chelsea won 2-1 at Turf Moor last Thursday].
"I realise that's the situation for everybody, I realise the manager has decisions to make and I realise maybe I'm not getting any younger – far from it. But I'm fit and ready to go.
"I don't have to be going out with nerves, feeling that I have to prove things to everybody. I think I've done that before if you look over my career – playing in the Champions League, playing in the Premier League and playing for England.
"If I'm happy with the way I'm playing that's good enough for me because I know I'm at the level I should be. I'm my worst critic when I'm playing."
While qualifying for the Champions League is likely to prove out of reach for Chelsea, Cahill has another major honour and a second trip to a World Cup with England firmly in his sights.
"This is what playing football is all about – trying to reach finals and trying to lift trophies. We have the opportunity to do that now," he added.
"Let's see what happens at the end of the season. We're into the final now, the World Cup's coming. Let's wait and see."
|Yedlin knee injury not serious, Newcastle confirm|
|Bartomeu satisfied with Barcelona squad amid Pogba links|
|BREAKING NEWS: Kevin De Bruyne suffers knee injury|
|Steelers QB Roethlisberger in concussion protocol|
|Kehrer to PSG not complete, say Schalke|
|Hopoate handed 10-year ban from NSWRL|
|Is this worth it? Injuries prompted Te´o to consider future|
|Croatia hero Subasic retires from international football|
|Iniesta makes it two in two for Vissel Kobe|
|Chelsea send out defensive duo on loan|
|Zaha 2023: Palace star means more than goals|
|De Jong set for Ajax stay despite Barcelona interest|
|Serena ´still at the very beginning´ of comeback|
|Ajax can benefit from Mourinho approach - Blind|
|Foley not convinced by reports All Blacks will drop Barrett|
|Zaha signs Crystal Palace extension|
|Burnley midfielder O´Neill makes A-League loan move|
|Godin yet to renew with Atletico Madrid amid transfer interest|
|Federer ´feeling better every day´ after Wimbledon disappointment|
|Kante comfortable with surprise new Chelsea role|
|Rugby Championship 2018: The numbers behind New Zealand´s dominance|
|LaLiga 2018-19: Bale ready to be Madrid´s shining light after five years in Ronaldo´s shadow|
|Rodgers unimpressed by absence of ´fit´ Boyata|
|Braves´ Acuna Jr. has arrived as a true MLB star|
|LA Galaxy 2 Colorado Rapids 2: Jackson´s deflected strike sees spoils shared|
|Victory offer postponed retirement, says Honda|
|Kyrgios forgets tennis shoes, Federer back in business|
|Williams knocked out as Garcia and Pliskova advance in Ohio|
|Kvitova sees off Serena in Cincinnati classic|
|Federer dispatches Gojowczyk in Cincinnati|
|Stead succeeds Hesson as New Zealand coach|
|Duminy encouraged despite South Africa´s mixed results|
|Thiem withdraws from Cincinnati Masters|
|Edwards joins Ospreys in consultancy role|
|Former Arsenal and Barcelona player Song joins Sion|
|I´m very happy with what I have - Spalletti not desperate for Modric|
|Roethlisberger evaluated for concussion after practice|
|Brady ´absolutely´ expects to face Eagles|
|Rugby Championship 2018: Reasons for optimism and concern for Australia|
|Wentz ´gonna be close´ for Eagles opener|
|Cleveland ´victory fridges´ to unlock beer if Browns finally win|
|England´s Watson suffers injury setback|
|Mariners reinstate Cano after 80-game suspension|
|AEK Athens 2 Celtic 1 (3-2 agg): Rodgers´ men dumped out of Champions League|
|Alonso to leave F1: Paddock reacts to Spaniard´s exit|
|Roma sign midfielder N´Zonzi from Sevilla|
|Alonso to leave F1: Who will replace Fernando at McLaren?|
|Extraordinary Zidane is in Real Madrid´s past - Lopetegui|
|Alonso to leave F1: Then and now - how the grid, teams and calendar have changed since 2001|
|Wawrinka and Azarenka receive US Open wildcards|
|Parma sign Napoli pair Inglese and Grassi on loan|
|Sandakan castles Proteas before Sri Lanka squeeze home|
|Ronaldo sale won´t stop Real Madrid winning - Ramos|
|Predators sign Ryan Ellis to eight-year, $50M contract|
|Curran, Woakes, Rashid - who makes way for Stokes in England´s Test XI?|
|Griezmann well positioned for Ballon d´Or, says Simeone|
|Criscito: I was on Genoa bridge shortly before collapse|
|Alonso to leave F1: How the Spaniard´s numbers stack up to the greats|
|Rookie LB Roquan Smith finally signs Bears contract|
|De Villiers enjoying relief from ´unbearable´ Proteas pressure|
|Fernando Alonso to leave F1|
|Spalletti extends Inter contract|
|Godin, Koke, Griezmann and Juanfran named Atletico Madrid captains|
|Ronaldo out of hospital after illness|
|Fury: Beating Wilder and Joshua ´very easy´|
|Dickinson retires to take up academy coaching role|
|Cricket the ´sole focus´ for Stokes as he returns to England squad|
|Cheryshev moves to Valencia on loan|
|Mandzukic retires from Croatia duty after World Cup|
|Ben Stokes found not guilty of affray|