HUTCHINSON: COMING HOME, FEELING STRONG
As we reflect on our pre-season tour of America, there will be one player more than most who can feel pleased with his work after a fortnight on the road.
Sam Hutchinson joined the squad on a summer tour for the first time in three years after a difficult period in which a recurring knee injury forced him to temporarily retire from the game, before returning at the beginning of last season to try to rebuild what had been an extremely promising career.
The right-back, now 22, admits he is tired of talking about the injury, and would rather focus on the future as he attempts to forge himself a path into the first team. Three appearances out of four games in the States suggest Roberto Di Matteo believes in the Academy product.
'I think the tour has gone really well, I don't feel like I could have done much more. I only sat out one training session out of all the ones we did so I am very happy, and I think I've merited my involvement,' Hutchinson told the Chelsea website.
'You can't play in every game when you have such a strong squad and everyone needs to get fit but I was lucky enough that Robbie chose me in the first two games, I missed the third one but was back involved for the final game and I feel good and raring to go.
'The only disappointment is not being able to play all the time, because when you feel fit, which I haven't over the past few years, you want to play all the time. That's our job.
'This is as good as I've felt for four or five years. I won't count my chickens but I really feel as though I'm fine and will be ready for the season.'
It looks as though after years of frustration, Hutchinson can finally look forward. The next challenge is cementing a place among the senior squad, where he will be looking to add to his XX appearances he has so far accumulated.