It has been a long and testing six months for Ben Chilwell, but at Stamford Bridge yesterday he was able to finish the season on a high by returning to action in the closing minutes of our win over Watford.

Chilwell suffered a serious knee injury when we beat Juventus in November. It brought an abrupt end to an excellent run of individual and collective form, and the left-back’s absence has been keenly felt ever since.

He underwent surgery at the end of the year and has been putting in the hard yards at Cobham, gradually building up his fitness before returning to group training last week.

The good news continued as he tasted competitive action for the final stages of our final game of 2021/22, and he was understandably thrilled when he spoke to Chelsea TV afterwards.

‘This is the moment that has driven me the past months, getting on that pitch has motivated me to work so hard in the gym,’ Chilwell said.

‘Firstly, I have to thank my family. They have been there the whole time with me. All the staff and the boys have been brilliant as well. The support from everyone has been amazing and that’s another thing that has pushed me so much to have such a good recovery and feel so good.

‘It’s a very tight group. From day one of my injury I’ve felt the support of the fans, the staff, the players, everyone involved with Chelsea. It’s made it a lot easier to get through it and I’m buzzing to be back.’

Cheers from everyone inside the Bridge greeted Chilwell’s return to the grass, with the moment made extra special because he came on for his great mate Mason Mount.

‘It must have been deliberate, I don’t know, I’ve not spoken to the manager, but when I came on, he said to me "you’ve been brilliant, working so well to get back to where you are". To come on for him was nice, and what a brilliant season he’s had as well.

‘There were so many different emotions going through my head when I came on: excitement, nerves, everything. It was an amazing reaction from the fans. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a football pitch. To get that in before the end of the season is really good, and going into pre-season now I can really kick on.

‘Psychologically I know I have had a week training with the boys, I’ve come on last game of the season and I can really hit the ground running when I come to pre-season,’ added Chilwell.

‘I will have a few weeks off, and then I’m back in. I’ve got a lot of work to do still. The season is going to come around very quickly. It’s important I work hard over the summer to make sure I’m flying for pre-season.’