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Ake: Good to be back

After playing his first 90 minutes for Chelsea since October 2014, Nathan Ake feels he is now a more complete player thanks to his loan experiences.

The Dutchman was selected at left wing-back for our FA Cup fourth-round tie against Brentford, enjoying a winning return to Stamford Bridge as we defeated our west London neighbours 4-0.

It was his first action for the Blues following his recall from a loan spell at Bournemouth, for whom he made 10 Premier League appearances to go along with a further 24 at Watford in the previous campaign.

'It's nice to be back here, to play 90 minutes and to get the win,' said the 21-year-old, who was playing his 13th game for Chelsea and first since a 17-minute run-out against West Brom in May 2015.

'I've developed more as a player [since then], I've gained a lot of experience the past two years and played a lot of games. I feel maybe a bit more experienced – not too much, but more than I was before.

'In the Premier League it's tough. When I went to Watford, I was still maybe a boy but I learned a lot over that season and then this season playing centre-back you have to win balls in the air.

'I was 19 or something when I went, which is a good age to go on loan and get experience and play a lot of games. It was important for me, I needed it. You learn so much playing week in, week out and you come back a more complete player.'

Such experiences undoubtedly helped Ake to play in the unfamiliar role of left wing-back on his return to Stamford Bridge, having largely played at centre-back for Bournemouth this term.

'It's a hard position, of course, but I enjoyed it,' he said. 'A lot of up and down, so you need a lot of energy. I was kind of tired at the end. It was my first time.

'You have to get forward a lot and if the ball is on the other side you are basically a winger.

'On the first day I was back, [Antonio Conte] called me into his office and explained the different positions he sees me in and what he expects from me when I play those positions.

'For him, age doesn't matter. I just have to show him I'm ready to be here and that's what I try to do in training. It was positive that he called me back and it gave me a lot of confidence.'
 

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