Nathan Ake says he wants to prove it is "possible" for an academy graduate to break into the first team at Chelsea after being recalled early from his loan spell at Bournemouth by Antonio Conte in January.
Ake, 21, made his first appearance for the Blues since May 2015 in Saturday's 4-0 win over Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round, but his future at Stamford Bridge was quickly thrown into doubt by Bournemouth's interest in bringing him back to the Vitality Stadium on a permanent basis.
Chelsea never wavered in their stance that Ake was not for sale on transfer deadline-day and the defender says he remains as determined as ever to become the first academy graduate since John Terry to become a key starter at Stamford Bridge.
"Hopefully I can get more chances to express myself and show what I've learned over the last couple of years [on loan at Watford and Bournemouth]," Ake said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
"That's my main aim. I don't want to look too far ahead. This is the road I took. It was a difficult one because everybody said it would be impossible to break through here. That's why I want to break through. Just to show it is possible."
Ake joined Bournemouth on loan last summer and struggled to break into Eddie Howe's starting XI before finally getting his chance in November and putting together a string of impressive performances at centre-back over the festive period, as well as scoring crucial goals against Stoke City and Liverpool.
Despite his slow start at the Vitality Stadium, Ake insists he was never tempted to give up and return to Chelsea, and says that messages of encouragement from captain John Terry after he broke into the team were a confidence boost.
"The first two months were quite difficult because I wasn't playing," he said. "There was the mental side of coming through it. I could have said I wanted to come back and go somewhere else. I'd gone there to play and was frustrated but I stayed to fight and wait for my chance. I was trying to work hard and be ready.
"JT texted a couple of times after games when he'd watched on telly to say, 'Good game, well done, keep doing your work.' It's nice, especially from a big character, a great player who has done everything in the game. It was good to know people were watching and I had that connection."