Kurt Zouma has surprisingly claimed his time on the sidelines has flown by despite spending most of the year on the treatment table.
The 21-year-old took part in his first Chelsea training session in months while on the club’s pre-season tour of Austria this week.
Zouma was forced to undergo surgery after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament in a game with Manchester United back in February.
It has been a long road back to this point for the French defender and he still has around six weeks left before being considered for selection by Antonio Conte.
Surgery ruled him out of representing his country at Euro 2016, something which would have mentally crushed most footballers.
Not Zouma though. The French centre-back has always maintained a positive outlook and can see the finish line in his race to return to the Blues fold.
“It’s been really hard but if you’re strong mentally you can do anything,” Zouma said. “It’s football, lots of players have had big injuries and been out for a while.
“It’s important to stay positive in your mind and say to yourself: "Okay, I’ve been unlucky to get a bad injury but I will come back stronger.” You have to be determined.
“I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to be negative, I always try to be positive and have a laugh and joke with the guys and my family.
“The time has gone quite quickly, it’s been five months but it only feels like about two.
“I watched the Euros on TV with my family and there were a few days when I went out but generally I’ve just been working hard to get fit.”
Conte is prepared to take his time with Zouma’s recovery after such a serious injury and won’t rush him back into the squad.
However, the new Chelsea manager was keen for the defender to travel to Austria with the team to get a feel for his methods and boost his morale.
“He’s brought me on the tour so I’m really happy,” Zouma added. “He’s a good guy and a very good manager.
“We are working hard with him and he wants to create a strong team spirit in the group. He has a lot of quality.
“He has new ideas so we all need to watch him and be aware of what he wants from us.
“I’ve been working alone for a while and now I’m training, learning and improving with the guys.
“When you’re coming back from injury that’s all you want to do so I’m very happy. I’m working hard every day.”