Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has acknowledged that his time at the club may come to a close in January as he remains sidelined under new boss Maurizio Sarri.
The 32-year-old is yet to start a game this season for the Blues, having fallen out of favour next to Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Andreas Christensen.
Cahill returned late to the club for pre-season following his World Cup campaign with England, and with his team-mates in fine form, has been unable to muscle his way back into a position in the first-choice XI, having been named on the bench for his side's 1-0 win over PAOK in the Europa League on Thursday.
Having been a regular since joining in 2012 from Bolton Wanderers, the centre-back – who captained the club to Premier League and FA Cup glory in the past two seasons – is still seeking regular game time and has admitted that his future may lie away from Stamford Bridge.
“I realise that sometimes you have to make tough decisions and football doesn't wait for people,” Cahill said following his side's win in Greece, as quoted by the Mirror.
“I don't want to jump the gun but as things stand at this time, probably, yes [I might have to leave in January]. Whatever my future holds, in terms of the club, it will have been a huge part of my footballing life. I've got maximum respect for everybody here.
The former Aston Villa man stressed that he understands the importance of putting the team before himself, though he admitted that it has been a hard pill to swallow this season and that he is yet to speak to Sarri about his non-starting role.
“First of all, the team's doing well which is the most important thing,” Cahill added. “Having been a big part of things for six or seven years and played a huge part, I'm definitely finding it difficult this year to deal with that situation.
“I haven't spoken to the manager [about it] yet. I think we will speak soon, just to see where everything is and how the land lies.
“The most important thing here is the team, but I've got to look at my situation and my future as well. When you're winning games you have to sit tight and suck it up and deal with it. For me to do this all season is going to be very difficult.
“Everything gradually comes to an end. I've always been hungry to play football. I'm not a guy who is willing to accept not playing. It's all about playing. Your career's short enough as it is.”
Chelsea return to Premier League action this weekend with a trip to West Ham on September 23.