Chelsea new boy Ben Chilwell says he’s feeling positive about his fitness after he came on for his competitive debut in the side’s 6-0 victory over Barnsley.
The Blues cruised past their Championship opposition to book a place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, with Kai Havertz netting hat-trick and Tammy Abraham, Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud also getting on the scoresheet at Stamford Bridge.
A heel injury meant Chilwell was unable to take part in much of Chelsea’s preparation for the new season but the England left-back – who arrived from Leicester for a fee of £45million in August – replaced fellow summer signing Havertz midway through the second half on Wednesday evening.
And while it was Chilwell’s first outing since July, it didn’t take long for the full-back to make an impact. His pinpoint cross from the left flank in the 83rd minute was headed home by Giroud to round off a perfect evening for the west London outfit.
‘I’m happy. Obviously it was nice to come on in a game like that especially,’ he told Chelsea TV shortly after the final whistle.
‘The boys were playing well and it was obviously my first match minutes in a while so it was nice to be out there and great to make my debut.
‘Match fitness is completely different to training. You can train as much as you want but match fitness is completely different.
‘You have to play matches to get up to speed and it was important for the gaffer and myself. He said I’d come on for 30 minutes or so today just to try and get up to speed.’
Chilwell will no doubt be desperate to play a major role against West Brom this weekend but insisted it was up to Frank Lampard to decide whether he was ready to start at the Hawthorns.
Asked whether he’s feeling fit enough to play a full 90 minutes, Chilwell responded: ‘That’s not my decision. I’d like to say “yeah, I’m ready” but that’s not my decision.
‘I’ve been training hard but everyone trains hard and it’s a competitive squad this season.
‘I’m sure the gaffer will pick the best team on the weekends.’
After years of studying Giroud as an opposition player, Chilwell knew exactly where to put the ball when the Frenchman replaced Abraham in the 72nd minute.
‘Obviously I’ve seen OIi for years in the Premier League, scoring from crosses so I knew when he came on today that if I get the ball wide just put it in the area and I’m sure he’ll do the rest and he did that,’ he added.
‘It’s been the same in training with all the strikers. We’ve had conversations and they’ve all said put it in the area and we’ll all be there.
‘So hopefully there will be many more.’
Lampard was pleased to see both Chilwell and Thiago Silva out on the pitch in Chelsea colours for the first time.
‘Yeah, really happy,’ the Chelsea manager said.
‘Ben Chilwell came on, minutes, felt great afterwards, great assist in the game.
‘Thiago’s not been here long. It’s been… I wouldn’t say tough for him, but we have to work with him.
‘He’s so easy to work with already for me because, even though the language isn’t there, the intentions are there with him.
‘So two nice stories and we’re getting people back now, we’re getting people ready.’