Trevoh Chalobah remembers the moment well. It was mid-October, the international break, and he was returning to full training for the first time in two-and-a-half months following a hamstring injury. Yet it proved a false dawn. A fleeting moment of normality.

'I felt really good,' Chalobah recalls. 'The rehab with the staff here [at Cobham] was excellent, I had been working outside for a while, I had done all my conditioning and been managed really carefully.

'Then you've got to step it up. You know that is coming. But in the first drill of that session, my hamstring went again. Man, that was the toughest moment for me. A real hard one. But you've got to understand it, accept it, and then get back to work.'

The road to recovery for Chalobah lasted a further four months. That was a challenge, both mentally and physically, he embraced.

‘There is nothing I regret about it,' he says. 'Of course, at the start, it's difficult not being able to do what you love. You sort of feel that stress. This was my first big injury, though, so I knew there was something I could take from the experience.

'I tried to find enjoyment in it if you know what I mean. Staying focused, not getting distracted, doing the rehab. You've got to keep the faith too – and stay calm.

'I didn’t want to get myself too stressed because the more positive you are the more your body is going to feel that. So I would say I worked on myself mentally, physically and emotionally and I'm now feeling even better.'

The recovery work undertaken by players at Cobham goes largely unseen. Days off are few. The hours on the treatment table and in the gym are many. Yet for both players and staff, the end goal is the same.

Chalobah wasn't alone on his road back to full fitness. He bonded with new arrivals going through similar experiences – such as Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku – and was supported by a familiar face in Ben Chilwell.

It was at the start of January that the Academy graduate stepped up his comeback once again. He rejoined the first-team group but knew he was still several weeks away from a return to the pitch.

'I just had to give it time,' he reflects. 'My mindset was ‘you’re getting better, you’ll be good, just stay calm'. So I came in every day with a smile on my face and trusted the guys here to help my body heal.

'What I did find hard, though, was watching the games from home. Course, I was supporting the boys but man, I was on the sofa and just itching to be out there with them and helping the team.'

It wasn't until February 12 that Chalobah returned to the Chelsea matchday squad. He had a watching brief that evening as the Blues overcame Crystal Palace in the Premier League thanks to two late goals from Conor Gallagher and Enzo Fernandez.

Five days later came a trip to the Etihad Stadium to face champions Manchester City. Chalobah again started on the bench but, with 20 minutes remaining, was brought on by Mauricio Pochettino.

It was a sign of trust from the Chelsea head coach. ‘I think I had a good start pre-season, so he knew me and what I was about,' says Chalobah. 'I had got my confidence back through training but every player will say there is nothing like a game to really test you and your body.'

The 24-year-old came through unscathed. He was then afforded seven minutes in the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool. A first start of the season quickly followed as the Blues welcomed Leeds United to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup.

Chalobah started the contest in the heart of defence but was switched to right-back for the last 15 minutes of the game. The score was level at 2-2 heading into the 90th minute, and with that came the prospect of extra time.

‘My legs were really feeling it in those last minutes,' says Chalobah with a smile. 'Honestly, I was praying there was extra time! Obviously, Conor then gets the goal and the game is done. I had to thank him for that.'

Chalobah would keep his place for the trip to Brentford three days later. On that occasion, he was used in the middle of a back three. It's a position the defender played in his days in the Academy and while out on loan at Lorient. His versatility remains invaluable.

'It's a role I'm comfortable in and I'll play wherever I'm needed,' he explains. 'I've played in the middle of a three, on the right under Thomas Tuchel, I played on the left in France too. It's just about what is best for the team.

'I felt good in that Brentford game. The legs felt stronger. Once you get back into the flow of matches, it becomes easier.'

Chalobah's return has provided the Blues with a timely boost. We remain in the FA Cup, with a quarter-final tie against Leicester City to come, and are in the hunt to finish in the European places in the Premier League. There is still much to play for.

'We know what we've got to do,' says Chalobah, 'and the most important thing for me is helping the team however I can. I'm feeling good and am getting back into my rhythm. It's just about picking up where I left off in July before my injury.'