Ben Chilwell believes Chelsea are nearing a point where they can begin to take significant strides forward this season.
England international Chilwell was one of a number of new signings at Stamford Bridge for the 2020-21 season, with Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr and Edouard Mendy also brought in.
Chilwell’s introduction was slow due to a plantar fascia injury and caution was also exercised with Silva after he reached the Champions League final with Paris Saint-Germain last season.
Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are nearing returns from hamstring issues, while Sarr – who the Blues plan to send out on loan – is yet to feature and Mendy has only been at the club for a week.
Chilwell is looking forward to the full team finally getting to work together on the training field and build on an inconsistent start to the campaign.
“With the players we’ve got here and that have been brought in, as well as coaching staff, it’s a good recipe for things that can happen this season,” Chilwell said on Thursday.
“We’re working on things on the training pitch a lot defensively, in terms of hopefully conceding less goals from set-pieces and open play.
“We’re working hard on that and hopefully when we build that team chemistry more and people start training more and getting back to match fitness and everyone gets together a bit more it should start to gel nicely.
“It’s the same at all clubs really. There’s been little to no pre-season really. It kind of feels like it’s gone straight from the back of last season into this season.
“Players have come in and we’ve got the whole COVID situation which isn’t helping things, injuries including myself, key players like Christian and new signings haven’t been able to train with the squad as much as we’d like.
“Thiago is quite new into the building, Edu, the new goalkeeper, is new into the building, so it’s not been easy for us all to bond and gel together because we haven’t had the opportunity to.
“Hopefully over the next few weeks now we’re all back into training and full fitness that will be a positive for us.”
We win and lose together… We will try to make it better on saturday! pic.twitter.com/juTcl4j6hS
— Timo Werner (@TimoWerner) September 30, 2020
Chilwell made his Chelsea debut in last week’s 6-0 EFL Cup win over Barnsley and was handed his first start as the Blues exited that competition after a penalty shoot-out against Tottenham on Tuesday.
Explaining his slow introduction to the team, he said: “It was a plantar fascia [injury]. It’s one of them things you can’t come back [from] too quickly because it just aggravates it.
“Although it’s been frustrating because when you join a new football club you want to play and train and help the team, if I’d rushed it I would’ve made it a lot worse.
“Credit to the staff here because they’ve helped me manage the load and when I do come back that I’m fully fit and, touch wood, not gonna have another episode where it flares up again.
“That’s the reason for building me back into the match minutes slowly, which obviously I’m starting to appreciate now, because obviously it’s important that I get it right.
“I played against Tottenham a few days ago. I played 65 minutes and felt very fit, but I knew going in it was only gonna be a 60/65-minute job for myself because it’s an injury that I can’t miss steps out on and jump to playing 90 straight away because it’ll aggravate it.
“I felt fine after the game, trained today and ready for the weekend, so fitness-wise I feel very good.”
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