Romelu Lukaku insists he's ready to make the step up to the Chelsea first-team, and has fired an indirect warning to team-mate Fernando Torres that he is now in the best possible shape to lead the front-line.
While the £50million striker has been enjoying extra time-off following his exertions with Spain in the Confederations Cup, Lukaku has seized the opportunity to show new manager Jose Mourinho he has what it takes to make the grade at Stamford Bridge.
With four goals in three friendly games so far this pre-season, the Belgium international is looking to build on the 17 goals he scored on loan at West Brom in 2012/13, by helping Chelsea to the Premier League title this term.
"I'm realistic, but I don't want to stop my development like I did the first year," the 20-year-old told the London Evening Standard. "It was a hard lesson and a realistic one.
"I left the biggest club in Belgium where you play games, score every week and play for your family, your parents. Then you arrive in London, a top city and top club, but sit in the stands all week, like a fan. I don't want that feeling again."
Much was expected of Lukaku following his £18million move from Anderlecht in 2011, but a number of problems with his weight and conditioning restricted him to reserve team appearances under the former stewardship of Andre Villas-Boas.
Now, having trimmed his body fat thanks to a specifically tailored dietary programme given to him last year by the Chelsea nutritionists, Lukaku feels as fit as he's ever felt, and hopes to prove his potential in the first-team this season.
"Sure you can train with these top players but at some point you want to play," he added. "Yes I do want a starting position but that's normal.
"It was my turn then to work hard and start from scratch again at West Brom, to look at my negative points and improve my game.
"I am a better player now and I want to be an important figure for this club. I am very young but am also very ambitious. I want to play as much as I can but it's up to me."
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