Cahill keen to test himself higher

Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill - reportedly wanted by Arsenal, Manchester United and even AC Milan - has admitted that the chance to test himself and play top level European football is an opportunity he would regret if he did not consider.

Although the former Aston Villa man is yet to say when he will leave the Reebok Stadium, many pundits believe it is only a matter of time before the 25-year-old waves goodbye to Bolton, with the Gunners, Red Devils and Rossoneri believed to be waiting in the wings.

Since moving to Bolton in 2008 after a stop-and-start career with Villa, Cahill has gone on to play more than 100 games for Bolton and recently made his first England start in the 1-1 draw with Ghana at Wembley.

"It's a bit weird in a way. Normally when there is transfer speculation, the manager comes out and says: 'They can forget it, he's going nowhere'.

"But the thing about our manager is he's not only ambitious for himself and his club, he's ambitious for his players. He wants them to have the same drive and desire to get to the top. He expects us all to want to better ourselves," he said in the Mail.

"So when all the speculation started last summer, he called me in for a chat. He checked first of all that it hadn't turned my head, then he came out with this statement about outgrowing the club one day.

"He just said, 'Gaz, if you were happy just to tick along at your age there would be something wrong. You've got it in you to play at Champions League level and I honestly believe it's going to happen for you'.

"It was lovely to hear that, really flattering, and what he said has made it easier for me to contemplate moving on and taking another step forward in my career. If there is an opportunity to do something big you want to take it.”

With his future in doubt, Cahill also spoke about fellow England international Jack Wilshere, who was on-loan at Bolton from Arsenal during the second half of last season.

Since that loan spell, Wilshere has gone on to secure his first-team place in both the Arsenal and England squads, and Cahill has not hidden the fact that he would love to ply his trade at the same level as Wilshere.

"I still speak to Wilshere after his loan spell here and when I watched him in the Nou Camp (against Barcelona) the other week I couldn't help thinking: 'That's where I want to be, testing myself against the best'.

"I know there is extra pressure to deliver and prove you're worth a place alongside top players but I like to think I could handle that.

"At 25, I'm still young but I'm not exactly the new kid on the block. I have played enough Premier League games and gained enough international experience to be ready.

"I thought Jack did really well over there in Barcelona. I want to show I can hold my own in that company."

By Matt Maltby