Cahill calls on Chelsea to bounce back from Euro exit
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has challenged his team-mates to make amends for their frustrating Champions League exit by booking a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
After bowing out of Europe's elite club competition with a 4-2 aggregate defeat against Paris Saint Germain on Wednesday, the FA Cup is Chelsea's last remaining opportunity to win silverware this season.
Guus Hiddink's side travel to Everton in the quarter-finals on Saturday hoping to seal a last four berth and remain on course to win the trophy their Dutch coach also lifted during his previous spell as Chelsea's interim boss in 2009.
The reigning Premier League champions are in a "transitional period" according to Hiddink, who warned Chelsea must "consider their short-term future" as they come to terms with the prospect of missing out on Champions League qualification for next season.
Even victory in the FA Cup final wouldn't be enough to completely erase the bitter taste of disappointment from a season that began with Jose Mourinho in charge and many pundits predicting another league title.
But it would at least lift spirits a little and England international Cahill is keen to ensure Chelsea are fully focused when they arrive at Goodison Park.
"We need to refocus as we have one big chance to do something this season and the first hurdle is at the weekend," Cahill said.
Cahill's fellow defender Branislav Ivanovic summed up the disappointment felt by the players after the French champions won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to seal their European exit.
"I will really miss playing in the Champions League a lot," he said. "All of the players dream to play in the Champions League -- we live for the competition and the games.
"It's going to be very disappointing to not be in it next season.
"There are great teams and you have to concentrate all of the season to be in the top four. It's very difficult to be at that level all season.
"But this team has the character to grow and finish in the top four next season. We can fight for the title. We can come back stronger for the Champions League."
- Lacklustre -
Diego Costa is a doubt for the Everton game as he had to be taken off against PSG when injury ended an inspirational performance that saw him score Chelsea's goal.
Eden Hazard is also a doubt and his lacklustre display was booed by a number of Chelsea fans, who have become accustomed to seeing the Belgian fail to replicate last season's stellar displays.
"It's not an excuse, but people have to think about the fact he started the game injured," Ivanovic added.
"In my opinion it was one of his best performances so far. He was very strong and quick. He wanted to score and had a couple of actions where he looked like last season."
Farhad Moshiri, the Iranian billionaire who recently bought a 49.9 per cent stake in Everton, is expected to be at Goodison to introduce himself to the club's supporters after the former Arsenal shareholder's deal was ratified by the Premier League on Tuesday.
He arrives at a time when the club need a lift, having thrown away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home to West Ham last Saturday, conceding three times in the final 12 minutes.
That was the fifth time this season that Everton had failed to win after being two goals in front, and manager Roberto Martinez, facing increasing scrutiny, could do with a morale-boosting win over Chelsea.
"I just feel we need to take all the pain and experiences we've had throughout the season and now get our reward," Martinez said.
"You work really hard and when don't get the rewards you deserve it's painful.
"The challenge is to prepare the team for a positive response in the next game. I'm looking at the character we've got in the squad."
© 2016 AFP