A product of Aston Villa’s youth system, Gary Cahill believes we face an improving young side at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

Cahill progressed through the ranks at Villa Park before departing for Bolton in 2007, spending four-and-a-half years in Lancashire until signing for Chelsea at the start of the year.

Since then he has solidified his position in the England squad, lifted two trophies and scored some critical goals, but missed our most recent outing against Leeds United through suspension after being sent off in the Club World Cup final against Corinthians. That allowed the defender a rest that should see him restored to the team today in peak condition.

‘I feel alright now, but it was tough for the lads to play in that game against Leeds, it was a big ask, which made it an even better result really,’ said the defender.

‘I’ve had a few days now and I’m back to sleeping regularly. With the ban I was just happy it was only one game because there was talk it could be more, so that was a result for me, and I’m just looking forward to playing this weekend.

We need every player in the squad, especially with the busy December we’ve had, where we’ve played an awful lot of games and done a lot of travelling.

‘There are a lot of games coming up, but some good ones, and some that will give us a chance to improve our league form.’

We face a team with growing belief, which won at Liverpool last weekend despite fielding its youngest 11 of the Premier League era.

‘I thought they’d maybe struggle early on, but they’ve just had a fantastic result and begun to gain some confidence and play some good football, so it will be a tough test,’ admitted the 27-year-old.

‘They will have taken a lot of confidence and a lot of positives from their win at Liverpool. It’s not easy to get a win there and it was convincing in the end, so they’ll be full of confidence going into our game.’

Cahill has identified Christian Benteke, the Belgian striker, as a danger man in form who will require close attention.

‘He’s had a good time since he moved to Villa,’ he said. ‘He’s looked a handful and played regularly so he must be doing something right. He’s scored some decent goals and he’s certainly one to keep an eye on.’

If you’re on the move you can keep up to speed with this afternoon’s game with Chelsea Mobile.

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