Cahill: Great to be back

Gary Cahill says the squad is primed for competition after an encouraging end to pre-season.

The defender played the first half of our 2-0 win over Real Sociedad at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening as the Blues produced a slick performance to see off our Spanish opposition in our final friendly game of the summer.

New recruit Diego Costa netted twice inside the opening 10 minutes on a night when the squad was introduced to the crowd and was also able to familiarise itself with Stamford Bridge’s new pitch and innovative floodlighting system.

The evening came just 36 hours after the squad had returned from a trip to Turkey and Hungary, the second leg of a pre-season tour which had also seen the Blues play in Austria, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Germany.

Reflecting on the period, Cahill was able to look back with satisfaction on our preparations for the start of the Barclays Premier League season this weekend.

‘It’s been good, I’ve enjoyed it. We’ve done a lot of travelling like a lot of clubs, played some good games and trained hard,’ said the England international. ‘We’ve gradually been stepping it up, and it’s probably been hard for the manager because people have been coming back at different times after the World Cup, but I think we look sharp as a team and we’ve a few days now to fine-tune everything.

‘It was great to get back to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, the whole squad was looking forward to it and it was good to get back to playing at home in our surroundings. It went really well against Real Sociedad.

‘Being back at the Bridge was probably the highlight of pre-season, getting back in front of our own fans with a good result and performance.’

Tuesday’s win was our first appearance on home soil since May’s 0-0 draw against Norwich City, and brought a welcome return for Cahill and his team-mates.

‘It was nice to see the crowd, be in front of our home fans and be playing here again at the start of the season.

‘The new pitch was fantastic, the fans were great and it was good for them to see the new signings, and for those lads to be introduced. They’ve settled well, it’s an easy group to come into, the lads are really welcoming, everyone talks to everyone and I’m sure they’re enjoying it. Their performances show they’ve settled in fast.’

The squad returns to Cobham on Thursday after a day off on Wednesday, with four days then to prepare for a special Premier League opener at Burnley on Monday night – Turf Moor is where Cahill cut his teeth as a youngster on loan from Aston Villa.

‘I’m really looking forward to the season starting properly now, we’ve got the training done, we’re prepared and ready to go,’ said the 28-year-old.

‘Burnley have done fantastically to get back into the Premier League and I’m very fond of the place because it’s where I got my opportunity to play.

‘It’s a great club, I really enjoyed my time there and I’m looking forward to going back. I’ve been there once before with the England Under-21s but that was a long time ago so I’m really looking forward to it.’