John Obi Mikel has revealed that he has held talks with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after failing to be given a single minute of playing time since the Italian took charge.
The Nigeria international, who has spent the past decade at Stamford Bridge, made 19 appearances last season to offer signs that he still had a big part to play.
That has not proved to be the case so far this season, but Mikel is hopeful that he will be given a run-out in the EFL Cup tie with West Ham United on Wednesday evening to show his worth to Conte.
“I hope I will get some playing time against West Ham, but it is down to the manager,” he told the London Evening Standard. “He has been open and honest with me. I respect him for that. He has explained the situation and I totally understand.
“When you have been at a club for a long time, these things happen where a club wants to move forward. I just have to be professional, work as hard as I can to try and get into the team. I work twice as hard every day and it’s because I appreciate this club.
“I have been here a long time, have a lot of trophies and memories that will never go away. If I don’t get back in the side, I will respect it. I always respect the football club’s decision. The club is more important than me.”
Mikel recently suggested that he intends to leave Chelsea next summer as a free agent, with his contract due to expire at the end of the campaign.