Chelsea F.C. left-back Ryan Bertrand believes he deserves the opportunity to play regular first-team football at Stamford Bridge.
The England international, 24, was once tipped as the Blues’ long-term replacement for Ashley Cole but injuries and a subsequent loan to Aston Villa have cast a shadow of doubt over his future at the club.
In addition, the emergence of full-back César Azpilicueta and the club’s interest in Atlético Madrid’s Filipe Luís and Southampton’s Luke Shaw will surely worry the 24-year-old defender.
On the plus side, Ashley Cole — whose current contract at Stamford Bridge expires at the end of the season — seems likely to leave the club in the summer.
Bertrand, who turned down Liverpool in favour of staying at Chelsea last summer, will sit down with the club’s officials to discuss his future at the end of the campaign.
“I’ll go back to Chelsea in the summer and if they want me to play then that would be great,” Bertrand said. “Should it be other options, I suppose the ball is in their court.
“It’s something we’ll sit down and talk about in the summer. At this stage in my career I need to be playing. I don’t want to be sat on the bench next season, so that is something we will discuss in the summer.
“For me personally I feel I’m more than ready. I deserve the chance to play there consistently, having had the experiences that I have done under numerous managers.”
Bertrand has made 15 English Premier League appearances while on loan at Aston Villa this season — posting an average match rating of 6.44, per WhoScored.com.
The young left-back has learned a great deal from the likes of Cole, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry and is ready for a chance to be a first-team regular in the Blues’ first-team under Jose Mourinho.
“I’ve learnt from some of the best players at the highest level,” added Bertrand. “The likes of Didier, JT, Lamps, Ash directly in my position. I feel it’s my time. I’m 24, I’m looking forward to getting settled for the first time.
“I’ve had a taste of what it’s like to be at the top, to win things. I’ve won the Champions League already. I’ve played for England a couple of times, in a crucial qualifying game [against Ukraine] as well.
“Playing for your country is the pinnacle. To have that side of success and know what it takes, that’s where I want to be, what I want to get more of.”
Bertrand will — in all likelihood — start Villa’s final league fixture of the 2013/14 campaign against Tottenham Hotspur on Championship Sunday.