John Obi Mikel has admitted to struggling for motivation for Chelsea's Europa League campaign and is desperate to return to the prime time of the Champions League next season.
A 2-1 win over Sunderland saw Chelsea climb to third in the Barclays Premier League and return to the Champions League qualifying places. The Blues will bid to complete a Europa League quarter-final aggregate win over Rubin Kazan on Thursday and then continue their FA Cup defence with victory in Sunday's Wembley semi-final with Manchester City.
But Mikel's primary focus is on securing a top-four place in the Premier League and a return to the tournament Chelsea won in 2012. "Champions league football is what this club has always been involved in and that is what we as players want to achieve," Mikel said.
"We want to be in the top four, top three, whatever. We want to be in the Champions League next season. No disrespect to the Europa League, but when you saw that game on Thursday. but when you get that buzz, and you hear the Champions League song, it's different.
"And we have been used to it, to those nights, those special nights, and we want to get them back, we want to be involved again in the Champions League next season. I don't even know the Europa League song. I have been here seven years and I have never played football on Thursday nights.
"It has been kind of frustrating to watch them (Champions League matches) - and we have to then play on Thursday night. What do they say? Thursday nights Channel 5? Hopefully next season we are not going to be in it - we are going to be prime time."
Chelsea have been in a similar position before - a season of turmoil building to a crescendo - as recently as last season. The Blues finished sixth in the Premier League but winning the Champions League in Munich and the FA Cup triumph spared their blushes.
Their only opportunity for Champions League football next term is through the Premier League this season. Mikel is optimistic of success on all three fronts.
"We have to keep going and believing in what we can do," he said.
"The battle for the top four has always been tough. We knew it was going to be tough, coming to the business end of the season. Hopefully if we could get a piece of silverware this season we will be very pleased with ourselves. We have to keep going and playing the way we are playing."