England defender Ben Chilwell insists he is mentally stronger after returning from an injury which forced him to miss the World Cup.
The Chelsea left-back tore a hamstring just a couple of weeks before the tournament and missed out on going to Qatar.
However, having regained fitness, he has been recalled by manager Gareth Southgate and the 26-year-old is determined to take positives from the experience.
“All footballers go through periods of their career when things are mentally challenging and you have to be resilient, be strong, go through it and come through the other side stronger.
“That’s the way I’ve tried to look at things like the injuries I’ve had and missing the World Cup.
“I’m trying to spin it into a positive situation, so I can better myself mentally and physically, so when I come back playing I’m ready to help Chelsea and England as well.
“It’s a different kind of challenge that you have to embrace (missing the World Cup), it kind of gets sprung on you and you don’t have time to adapt.
“I’ve been talking to someone for a few years now and the stigma around it (mental health) is silly really, especially with men and men in football.
“I’ve been talking to someone for a few years now and its helped me and can definitely help everyone.
“The stigma around it is potentially something which needs to go.”
Chelsea team-mate Reece James was also denied a place in England’s World Cup squad due to a knee injury and Chilwell said having his fellow full-back alongside him during their rehabilitation helped.
“Very pleased to see him back, I know what a great player Reece is,” added Chilwell.
“In a weird way it was nice to have each other during that time as it was someone you could share the pain of missing a World Cup with and we helped each other a lot from the experience.”
Now he has regained full fitness, Chilwell is looking to challenge Manchester United’s Luke Shaw for the starting position in Southgate’s side.
“One of the keys to a strong squad and successful squad is when you have two or three in each position pushing each other as competition for places is important in all successful teams,” he said ahead of the team’s first Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy in Naples.
“We want to be one of those very successful teams in the near future so if we are going to have competition for places at left-back it can only be a good thing and hopefully me and Luke can push each other.”
“I just need to keep working hard, when I come here be professional with everything I do and hopefully when I get the opportunity to play hopefully I can give the manager a headache.
“The headaches we can give the manager are potentially good for the team.”