Joe Cole has vowed to return from his long-term knee injury a stronger player after sitting out the second half of Chelsea’s campaign.
The winger has been sidelined since January 14 when he limped out of Chelsea’s 4-1 win away to Southend in their third-round FA Cup replay.
Cole had also been restricted by a niggling ankle injury in the first part of the season and has since admitted he tried to come back too quickly from that complaint.
Cole believes that could have contributed to his season being prematurely ended at Roots Hall and is determined not to make the same mistake again, claiming when he does return he will be “bullet-proof”.
“The way I see it is when I get injured then I will come back stronger,” he told Chelsea TV.
“I’m so focused on coming back better and stronger than before. You get knocks in life and you can talk in victory and in glory but when the chips are down and you are in adversity you need to come through that.
“I come in every day and do what the physiotherapists say I need to do to the letter. Then I’ll see where it takes me.”
He added: “I think why I got injured was because at the start of the season I was playing with little niggles. I had an ankle injury and came back too soon.
“The manager wanted me back, and I tend to want to play through the pain. Maybe that is a lesson learned. It’s a hard lesson learned, but I will come back when I’m ready whenever that may be.”
Cole, 27, has had to sit on the sidelines as Chelsea’s Premier League and Champions League aspirations have unravelled, with the FA Cup final against Everton their last remaining hope of winning silverware this term.
The England winger admitted it has been difficult to watch, but with his best years ahead of him he is determined to come back fitter and help the west Londoners return to the heights they scaled with back-to-back league titles under former boss Jose Mourinho.
“I’m coming into my peak years. The next five years will be the best of my career so I want to get myself bullet-proof,” he said.
“I want to tick every box and win some major trophies again.
“I won’t let it get me down. Being an injured Chelsea player is probably the second best job in the world behind being a Chelsea player.”