Trevoh Chalobah believes the long winter break for the World Cup in Qatar has provided him time to recharge and regroup before Chelsea's Premier League campaign resumes.
With the World Cup now reaching the quarter-final stage, Premier League teams are already preparing to return to club football with a busy winter schedule.
It has been a rollercoaster season for Chelsea so far. The Blues parted ways with Champions League-winning former manager Thomas Tuchel early in the campaign, and after a bright start under Graham Potter, hit an indifferent run of form to sit eighth in the table on 21 points, 16 points behind leaders Arsenal.
Chelsea have fared better in Europe, though, and have reached the Champions League last 16 where they will face German side Borussia Dortmund.
The Blues meet Bournemouth in their first game after the break on December 27.
“It’s the longest winter break of the Premier League that I have experienced and it certainly has given us the time to recharge and regroup for the second half of the season,” Chalobah told The National during Chelsea's training camp at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
“We came on the back of a very hard period and the break provides us with the opportunity to get ready physically and mentally. We had a lot of games and spent a lot of minutes, and we now freshen up and get ready to go again.”
Chelsea have some catching up to do in the Premier League and Chalobah insisted their focus wasn’t on the position but on their own game.
“We are focusing on ourselves rather than where we are at the moment,” he said. “That’s the main thing. We want to be up there. We know what we need to do and that’s what we are going to work out during this camp.”
As part of their preparations for the resumption of the season, Chelsea meet Aston Villa in the CFB Challenge Cup at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
“That’s a game we are looking forward to and we are physically ready for it,” Chalobah said.
Chelsea have fond recent memories of Abu Dhabi, having won the Fifa Club World Cup in the capital in 2021 when they defeated Brazilian club Palmerias 2-1 after extra time in the final.
“Abu Dhabi is a nice place for a camp with the sun on the back. The training has gone well,” Chalobah added.
Chalobah, 23, has started eight times in the Premier League so far this season, including the last seven games before the World Cup break. His impressive form has been rewarded with a new deal that runs until 2028 and includes the option to extend for a further 12 months.
Both Aston Villa and Chelsea will be without many of their senior players due to World Cup duty and injuries.
Chelsea sent 12 players to represent their countries at the global showpiece.
Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher and Raheem Sterling are still involved in the tournament as England take on France in the quarter-finals on Saturday, although Sterling is currently back in the UK after his home was targeted by burglars while he was in Qatar.
Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly are out of the finals after Senegal were knocked out by England in the last 16. Also on their way home are Switzerland's Denis Zakaria, USA's Christian Pulisic, Spain's Cesar Azpilicueta and Kai Havertz of Germany.