Gary Cahill has been unfairly criticised at times this season but has been well short of his best, says former Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair.
Blues captain Cahill has found himself left out of the side during a difficult campaign in which his team struggled to a fifth-place finish.
His season got off to a terrible start when he was sent off in opening league match against Burnley.
And Cahill has only started 24 of Chelsea’s 38 Premier League matches this term.
But the 31-year-old centre-half forced his way back into the team towards the end of the campaign.
He was named in the England squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia and played a huge part as captain of the side that beat Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup.
“He didn’t reach the standards he usually sets in the early part of the season,” Sinclair told West London Sport.
“Gaz has had an indifferent season and will be the first to admit that.
“But he has taken a bit of stick which was uncalled for. He has made a massive contribution since he’s been here, won a load of medals and proven himself.
“He has achieved so much and you knew he would respond in the right way.”
Sinclair made 219 appearances for Chelsea from 1990 to 1998.
He also played alongside Cahill when they were at Burnley together.
Sinclair added: “I played with him when he was 18 or 19 and he always had an old head on young shoulders.
“He deals with adversity in the right way and has forced his way back into the Chelsea team and has been good since returning.”
And Sinclair has no doubt England boss Gareth Southgate made the correct call in keeping faith with Cahill for the World Cup.
“His experience will be vital for a young squad,” Sinclair said.
“He may well not start but to have him around will be invaluable. And he will be ready to play if he is needed.
“First and foremost he loves defending. He is a throwback centre-half but is more than capable on the ball.
“He’s comfortable in possession and is decent in front of goal too.
“He is strong in the air, his commitment is wonderful and he helps others play.”