Ivanovic upbeat over Chelsea place

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Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic hopes his performances with Serbia can help him regain his spot at club level.

Ivanovic, 32, has made seven Premier League appearances this season, but his last start came in September.

But he featured in both of Serbia's internationals this month, including playing 90 minutes in the World Cup qualifying draw with Wales.

Ivanovic feels that may help him work his way back into Antonio Conte's system, telling UK newspapers: "I definitely think playing with three at the back for Serbia can help me with Chelsea.

"When you talk about Serbia, it's definitely something that has changed our team when we start playing with three at the back and we're improving in every game.

"Of course, personally, it helps me because I can have minutes playing in that shape."

Conte's second-placed team are on a five-match winning run in the league ahead of their trip to Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Ivanovic believes he is nearing the fitness levels he needs to regain a starting spot at club level.

"Of course, he [Conte] is a top manager who was watching all of the Chelsea players," he said.

"I was injured and I've just got back in the [national] team. It's good to be back on the pitch, I need minutes.

"It's very important for me and I hope in the future I'll be physically ready to be ready for [Chelsea]."