Chelsea left-back Ben Chilwell admits it was was tough to watch England at the World Cup last year, having been ruled out of the tournament through injury, but credited the help of team-mate Reece James in getting through a difficult spell.
The defender suffered a serious hamstring injury in Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Dinamo Zagreb and was subsequently ruled out of the tournament in Qatar as England exited at the quarter-final stage.
It followed a difficult European Championships with England in 2021, where Chilwell was called up to the squad but failed to get on the pitch at all for the run to the final, due to the form of Luke Shaw.
But since returning from injury, the 26-year-old has been in fine form for his club and is part of the England squad to face Italy and Ukraine.
“Of course mentally, you know it’s very challenging,” he said, when asked about missing the World Cup.
“I think all footballers go through periods in their career where things are mentally challenging and you’ve got to be resilient, strong and try and come through out the other side stronger.
“That’s pretty much the way I’ve tried to look at the injuries I’ve had and missing the World Cup, trying to spin them into positive situations and better myself mentally and physically so that when I did come back playing, I was ready to help Chelsea and England as well.
“It’s difficult when you miss out on a World Cup but at the end of the day I’m an England suppporter above all else. I’ve been an England supporter my whole life, so of course I watched the games.
“We were at a training camp in Abu Dhabi with Chelsea for the knockout games and like I said, I’m an England fan so I was cheering the team on.”
“I’m absolutely delighted to get called up and I’m focused on two very important games.”
Chelsea team-mate and his opposite full-back Reece James also missed the World Cup through injury, and Chilwell said they helped each other get through what was a difficult time.
“I’m equally very pleased (to see him back in the squad),” Chilwell added.
“I know the kind of player Reece is and in a kind of weird way it was nice that we had each other during that time because it was someone that you could share the pain, so to speak, of missing a World Cup with.
“We helped each other a lot through that experience. We’ve come out stronger and we’re both playing well for our club at the moment and hopefully we can help us do well this week.”