Lauren James was named on the bench for the first time in our recent Vitality FA Women’s Cup semi-final victory against Manchester City and the forward believes she and the Blues will benefit from her time spent working hard behind the scenes.
James arrived from Manchester United in the summer, but the 20-year-old is yet to make her debut for Emma Hayes’s side, instead taking the time to work closely with the support team to focus on getting her ready and in the best shape possible to stay on the pitch for the long-term.
She said: ‘I’ve had a few injuries in the past year, some reoccurring ones. Reoccurring ones are more annoying than a new injury.
‘I’ve been trying to find my feet again so I can stay on the pitch. My main goal is to stay fit and stay on the pitch.
‘I’ve been working on my injuries wherever I had them, to make those areas stronger so I can prevent that happening again.
‘Previously I haven’t taken as much time to get my body right. Coming in and having a good team around me to help get my body right and conditioned to be able to cope with what’s needed will help in the long run.’
James admitted it’s been tough to come into a new team and to be, at times, training on her own, but the No.19 is thankful for the support of her team-mates and the Blues backroom staff who have helped her throughout the rehab process.
She added: ‘When I look back, I think how did I do it because when you do it over and over again, it’s draining to do rehab every day. You are thinking about when you are going to be back on the pitch, but I’ve been lucky with this rehab.
‘It’s not nice to have someone else injured but I’m lucky to have had Maren [Mjelde] with me so we’ve had each other to help us both through it, to push each other through it and we’ve come away with a good friendship.
‘All the staff have supported me, especially the medical team and the players around me have helped. Being injured is quite a dark and lonely place, you feel isolated because you aren’t with the team. When the team go away, you are at home, but everyone has been great.
‘They’ve been so positive, and they are always there if I need them. They have been there with all the positivity on those dark days. For example, against Manchester City when I travelled with them, it was nice for the little comments from them saying they are so happy to have me back around the team again. It makes you feel good.’
With her inclusion in the matchday squad for Blues recent semi-final win against City, James is edging closer to a return and the forward says it will be a special moment for not only her, but brother Reece and the rest of her family.
‘It will be a great feeling. For me, for my family and my brother,’ said James. ‘They all know what I’ve been through and so too do the staff and players at Chelsea. They know what the past year has been like for me. It will be good to get back playing in a blue shirt again.
‘I’m really looking forward to it but I’m sure it will come when the time is right.’