Man with a mask Gary Cahill warns against San Marino slips

Friday 04 Sep 2015
England vice-captain Gary Cahill wears his mask in training

With a mask covering his face, a broken nose is not the only thing Gary Cahill is looking to protect.

The England defender joined back up with Roy Hodgson's squad this week following a bruising early season with his club Chelsea in which he suffered a painful facial injury.   

But rather than sit out on the sidelines to recover, the 29-year-old is desperate to help his country maintain their perfect record on the road to France 2016 as they prepare for their next two qualifiers - away in San Marino on Saturday and at home to Switzerland on Tuesday (buy tickets here).

San Marino v England

UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier
5pm (BST), Saturday 5 September 2015
San Marino Stadium, Serravalle
Live on ITV 1

"It’s been refreshing and good to see all the lads and the staff here again," the vice-captain told as he relaxed at the team's training base at St. George's Park.

"We’ve had a couple of really good training sessions and positive meetings.

He added: "I’ve had a bit of a nightmare since the start of the season. 

"We played Barcelona pre-season and I scored the goal in the last minutes of the game, heading over the keeper, but by doing that he’s come out and punched me straight in the nose. 

"It’s started from there, then I disrupted it against Arsenal, then against Man City I got smashed in the nose again and broke it twice in two places. 

"It’s not ideal but that’s the situation and it’s better that I wear the mask and play than not wear it and have to sit out. 

"I’ll wear the mask to protect it until it’s healed, when it’s healed the mask goes and I carry on as normal."

Gary Cahill v Slovenia

Vice captain Gary Cahill has 36 caps

Should England win in Serravalle, at least second spot in Group E will be secured and with it a place at Euro 2016.

However, Cahill is keen not to get too carried away as he and his team-mates prepare to face a side who has just one point in qualification and who lost 5-0 at Wembley last October. 

In their five previous meetings with San Marino, the Three Lions have conceded just once, and that came after only eights seconds of an away qualifier for World Cup '94. 

So, after being breached just three times in the campaign, the ex-Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers man knows they must avoid any complacency. 

"One of the biggest things in a game like this is concentration. Everybody knows they don’t score many goals, but you don’t want to be one of the first teams on the end of them getting a freak result," he said. 

"We have to concentrate at the back as you don’t see as much of the ball. They are strange games, but as professional we have to go out and do the job and there is no bigger incentive for us than to qualify for Euro 2016, and also to keep our unbeaten run going. 

"That’s very important and we want to win as many games consecutively as we can. 

"Football is all about concentration, especially for us at the back. 

"There will be long periods of the game where we don’t have much to do, so we must stay focused and be respectful of the fact that teams can hurt you if you make mistakes."

He added: "For defenders, scoring as goal is a bonus but doesn’t happen that frequently during a season. 

"Keeping a clean sheet, defending well, is what we take pride in and it gives the team a platform to go on and win the game. 

"Especially this qualifying campaign we’ve managed to do that and not let many goals in. 

"That’s something we are proud of and something we want to continue to do, and it goes hand in hand with this unbeaten run we want to protect."

But Cahill is not really thinking too much yet about finishing the qualifying campaign with a perfect record, despite winning all six of their games so far: "San Marino is our main focus," he said. 

"We need to prepare professionally both physically and mentally for them and if we do we should go on and do well in the game."

After England play San Marino they return home to face Switzerland at Wembley on Tuesday night. Tickets are available from £10 for children and £20 for adults in the family section and can be purchased online here.

To arrange your travel plans click here.

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor At St. George's Park