Ben Chilwell has opened up about the mental struggles he faced during the winter World Cup when he was ruled out of the competition due to a hamstring injury.
The left-back was joined in the Chelsea treatment room at the same time by his compatriot and fellow full-back Reece James, who was recovering from a knee injury.
Both were likely to have been called up by Gareth Southgate for the tournament in Qatar but injuries sustained in Champions League matches in the run up to the competition ensured they would not be featuring.
The English duo instead travelled to Abu Dhabi for a warm weather training camp to continue their rehabilitation, alongside their Chelsea team-mates, and Chilwell has explained what it was like supporting the Three Lions from afar.
‘I think mentally it was very challenging. Of course, the Euros I was there and the World Cup, I wasn’t there. It was a different kind of challenge. It kind of gets sprung on you so you don’t have much time to adapt,’ Chilwell said, when facing the media ahead of England’s match against Italy on Thursday night.
‘I just thought how can I turn this situation into a positive and work on myself as a footballer and a person. I tried to spend a lot of time with my family, get away from it a bit and reset.
‘Now, mentally I feel refreshed and ready to go again. That’s pretty much the way I’ve tried to look at the injuries I’ve had and try to spin it into a situation where I can help myself to be better to help Chelsea and England.’
Ben was asked about how having Reece alongside him helped him battle through the challenges, and he outlined the 23-year-old’s supportive nature as a huge factor in overcoming those hurdles.
‘Weirdly, it was nice that we had each other during that time as it was someone you could share the pain of missing a World Cup with.
‘We were at a training camp in Abu Dhabi with Chelsea for the knockout games. I was cheering the team on. We watched it as a team really.
‘We put it up in the hotel and sat down after dinner to watch the games every night. Of course, when you have a lot of different nationalities and players supporting different teams,’ Chilwell added.
‘All the banter was in a light-hearted nature. It was nice to watch the games together. Me and Reece helped each other and we are both stronger and playing well with our clubs at the moment.’