Nathaniel Chalobah has opened up on his mentally draining rehabilitation from a long-term knee injury and his dreams of playing at the World Cup.

The Watford midfielder enjoyed a flying start to the season and earned his first England call up before suffering a fractured kneecap in training in September.

He has not played since and, despite upping his recovery in recent weeks, no date has been set for his return after Javi Gracia admitted he may miss the remainder of the season.

At just 23, time is still very much on Chalobah’s side, but the abrupt manner in which his progress was halted still took its toll on the former Chelsea man.

“It has been tough mentally for me,” he told Sky Sports. “Luckily I’ve got a really strong family base and people around me to help keep me occupied.

“I was pretty upset when I found out how serious the injury was and how long I would be out, but an injury can never really come at the right time in football.

“Things happen and you just have to move on. I’m working as hard as I can to get myself back fit and playing again.”

Chalobah’s optimistic approach to regaining his fitness can only stand him in good stead as he looks to return to first team duties as soon as possible.

He will do so with the ambition to play for England still burning and has memories stirred up by his maiden call up in August to spur him on.

“I was literally about to leave the club and head back home when I got the phone call,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I stopped and froze on the spot and thought: ‘Oh my god, this is actually happening’.

“I kind of had a feeling it might be coming because I was doing well, but to actually get told I was in the squad was just amazing.”

Having been capped 97 times at various international youth levels, Chalobah’s Three Lions apprenticeship has been substantial.

Current England boss Gareth Southgate handed the centre-midfielder a number of those junior caps during his time as Under-21 boss.

Southgate clearly rates Chalobah and their relationship can only boost his hopes of making a further impression on the senior England set up.

However, the nature of Chalobah’s injury means earning a spot on the plane to Russia is a long shot, but this hasn’t stopped him dreaming.

He said: “Honestly, it would be a dream come true. It’s always an honour to put on that shirt but to get the chance to do it at the World Cup would be the greatest achievement.

“I am working as hard as I can for it.”