Gary Cahill believes Andreas Christensen has proven he is good enough to start each week for Chelsea, and backed the defender to only improve with time.
Antonio Conte brought Christensen back from his two-year loan spell at German club Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer, with the 21-year-old going on to impress in his limited starts earlier on in the season.
But after regular centre-back David Luiz was surprisingly dropped for Chelsea’s game against Manchester United in early November and then suffered a knee injury, Christensen has kept his place in Conte’s three-man defence.
And the Dane has impressed so much since that Chelsea captain Cahill admits he doesn’t need to give Christensen any orders on the pitch because he’s so secure in his defending.
Speaking to BT Sport as part of its live Premier League coverage of Chelsea’s game against Huddersfield on Tuesday night, Cahill said: “At this football club, you don’t get given gifts, you don’t get given time to play if you’re not good enough.
“He’s proven that he’s more than capable. He’s growing stronger and stronger every game he plays. It’s natural as well, you get more belief and more confidence from his performances. He’s proven to be a very good footballer.
“You don’t have to worry every two minutes what he’s doing or what he’s up to or telling him to go here or go there. And that’s a worrying factor.
“I think it’s one of the positives things you don’t have to do. You feel you can leave him to play his own game.”
Chelsea have not put a date on Luiz’s return from injury, with the 30-year-old currently recovering from inflammation in his right knee.
Once he is fully fit, Luiz’s place in the Chelsea side is by no means assured because of Christensen’s form. But Cahill admits the Brazilian has still been helping the latter develop despite the competition for places at the club.
“I feel he can help him along a lot, which he has been doing,” Cahill added. “He’s a very good footballer and he can only improve.”