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England defender Gary Cahill has announced that he is "taking a step back" from international duty to focus on his club football with Chelsea.

The 32-year-old defender was the most capped member of Gareth Southgate's squad at the 2018 World Cup, but his only minutes on the pitch came in the group game against Belgium, by which time England had already qualified for the knockout stages.

The Three Lions went on to reach the semi finals but Cahill was not involved again as Southgate chose to place his faith in younger players, and this is one of the reasons for Cahill's decision.

"It's time to take a step back," he told Chelsea TV, quoted by the Independent. "I feel it's the right moment to do that. If I'm ever needed in the future then obviously I'm there."

Although Cahill's statement is not that of a permanent retirement, the chances are that the Chelsea centre back will not be returning to international duty. He turns 33 in December.

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He has not been included in Chelsea's match day squad for any of their first three league fixtures this season, so he will stay at home during the upcoming international break and do his best to impress Maurizio Sarri in training.


Cahill made his international debut against Bulgaria in 2010 and has gone on to win 61 caps for England, scoring five goals in that time, including a header against Nigeria at Wembley in June.

He missed Euro 2012 through injury but was a key player at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, although both tournaments ended ignominiously for England.

Cahill is the second player to announce his retirement from England duty on Tuesday, following on from Jamie Vardy's earlier announcement.