Ramires predicts 'long, hard season' for Chelsea

The 24-year-old played a crucial part in the Blues' success last term but believes that both he and the team will have to improve in order to meet growning expectations

Chelsea midfielder Ramires is looking forward to his side's new domestic campaign but warns that they must improve to deal with a "long, hard season".

The Blues have just completed their pre-season tour of USA and the Brazilian midfielder believes that it was a success despite losing to AC Milan and the MLS All Stars.

"The games were a good test; the team did well, we lost the last two games, but we worked hard," he told the club's official website. "It's a bit soon to worry too much about performances; this is pre-season so the main focus is on fitness.

“It took a while to get back into it, but I tried to do my best and enhance my fitness levels in order to be in the best possible shape as soon as I can."

Ramires won the Players' Player of the Year award for Chelsea last season after impressive performances including goals in the FA Cup final and the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, but he emphasised a continuing group effort.

"I will try to repeat my performances of last season, or even better them if possible, but it's not just about me, it's important we improve as a team," he declared.

"It will be a long, hard season, and after everything we achieved last year expectations will understandably be high.

"It will be good to be back playing in England. We are looking forward to seeing our supporters and it will be nice to play as European champions. However, this is a new season, the Champions League is in the past and we need to focus on our new targets."

The Brazilian has been recalled to the national side after a long absence for their upcoming friendly against Sweden and he is relishing the chance to play for his country again, enthusing: "I'm very happy to be back in the national squad - it feels like the first time all over again after such a long period out of it.

"Every time a squad was announced I would be waiting hopefully, and now, when I didn't really expect it, I'm back. I'm delighted to be involved again and I hope to be able to remain there for a long time."

Chelsea will visit Brighton for their final pre-season fixture on Saturday before facing Manchester City in the Community Shield a week later.