Andreas Christensen has admitted there are a number of difficulties and mental challenges which exist when playing for Chelsea, with the defender stressing that he will never get 'comfortable' in the senior set-up.
The 21-year-old has stepped up to the plate for Chelsea this season having all but replaced David Luiz in the centre of defence after returning from his two-year loan spell with Borussia Monchengladbach, having made 23 appearances to date.
Christensen's impressive form earned him a new four-and-a-half-year contract last week, but the young defender is conscious of the fact that he cannot become complacent and let his high standards drop as the competition for places will see him lose his spot in Antonio Conte's side.
With Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill all in the squad, and reports reiterating Conte's desire to add to his defensive ranks - after the boss admitted to missing out on Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk - the 21-year-old Dane is wary of his precarious position at the club.
Following the Blues' 0-0 draw with Arsenal in the first-leg of the League Cup semi-final, Christensen told the Independent: “You can’t get comfortable here. Even with the players we have here now you can’t feel comfortable, the players we have in the changing room.
“That is why it is so mentally hard because every time you play you have to perform and you can’t afford to make major mistakes.”
After successfully returning from his loan spell to break into Chelsea's first team, Christensen looks back on his experience abroad as a valuable learning curve which has enabled him to slot seamlessly into Conte's team - although he did admit the hectic festive period is a physical and mental demand that he is not accustomed too.
CB: Andreas Christensen. In just a few months, the young Dane has gone from 5th choice CB to undisputed starter, and he's kicked David Luiz out of the XI. If he keeps it up, he'll be the first since John Terry to make it from Chelsea's academy all the way to undisputed starter. pic.twitter.com/zTvveRIdoz— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) January 5, 2018
He said: “I am happy with the way it has gone. It’s not an easy team to break in. The two seasons I had away prepared me. I said to myself that if I wasn’t ready now, I would never be.
“There are so many games that we try to rotate a lot. That helps a lot but at the same time you want to play as many games as possible. At the end of the games you feel a bit tired but we love to play football and we won’t complain.
“Personally I’m more tired than normal because playing in Germany you get two weeks off over Christmas so I’m used to that. Coming back here, maybe the most difficult part is mentally. The body is prepared for it from pre-season but mentally it is difficult to keep your concentration well, it is for me anyway.
"Even in the academy we got a little break over Christmas. It is difficult mentally and you have to keep preparing for each game as it comes with only two or three days in between," he added.