Gary Cahill insists he has the ‘fire in his belly’ to prove he can still do a job at the highest level – and he is ready to make his Crystal Palace debut.

The 33-year-old former England centre-back has yet to figure for Roy Hodgson’s side after joining from Chelsea as a free agent in the summer.

Cahill, who won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, the Champions League, two Europa Leagues and one League Cup while at Stamford Bridge, has had to be content with a place on the bench as Palace have taken one point from their opening two matches.

The former England man was virtually ignored by former Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri last year, making only two substitute appearances in the Premier league all season.

But Palace staff have been impressed with Cahill’s fitness since joining the club – and he also completed a full 90 minutes in an Under-23s game last week.

Hodgson is contemplating a shake up after the disappointing display in the 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Sunday, and Cahill is set to be unveiled for his first game in a Palace shirt against Manchester United at Old Trafford, where his big game experience could be key.

Cahill insists he still has the hunger to win games even at this stage in his career, saying: “I’ve got a burning desire to win football matches and play consistently well at the highest level, first of all for me and then hopefully I can rub off on the players and staff around me and try and push the club in the right direction.

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“That’s the pressure I need to put on myself.

“I need to be as hungry as ever, which I will be because all I need to do is flip my memory to last year to give me that fire in my belly to perform.

“I’m more than ready to go now and I’m looking forward to the season.”

Earlier this week, Cahill opened up on how it felt to leave Chelsea after his trophy-laden spell ended in him being pushed to the fringes.

“Leaving Chelsea was sad, but naturally everything has to come to an end,” he told talkSPORT.

“It was certainly the right time for me to go from that club and I have nothing but positive things to say about the club.

“There’s no issue there. It was just naturally the right time to go.

“Every single year I’ve made many, many appearances throughout my career, and last year I made hardly any, so that tells it all and that it was the right time to go.”

Palace currently sit 14th in the Premier League having collected a point from their opening weekend draw with Everton.



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