Saturday’s FA Cup final saw two centre-backs who were dropped by Gareth Southgate for the March friendlies, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill, go head to head.
Cahill, valued at £13.5m by Transfermarkt, is the one who has been recalled to the setup for the World Cup, where he will link up with another Manchester United centre-half in Phil Jones.
In Chelsea’s resilient 1-0 win, Cahill showed why he got the nod over Smalling and why he should now be above Jones in the pecking order for the tournament in Russia this summer.
Cahill was authoritative where Jones was nervous, allowing Eden Hazard – whom England will face with Belgium in their final group game – to jet ahead of him and win the penalty that ended up deciding the day.
Antonio Conte was prepared to soak up pressure and Cahill delivered with eight clearances, three headers won and two tackles as United failed to transform their dominance of possession into clear chances to score.
Southgate has left Smalling out because of his inferior passing but Cahill also showed that there should be no concerns on that score with him, offering up a 91% pass success rate and even getting involved with a shot on the rare occasions Chelsea were able to get up the pitch.
Cahill was at least as good as Antonio Rudiger, who was awarded man of the match, and should have leapfrogged Jones in the England pecking order after their contrasting Wembley showings.