Pick him against Brazil or he’ll suf­fer like I did

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - SPORTS - Glenn Hod­dle

Iwas lucky enough to have a de­cent de­but for Eng­land in 1979, scor­ing a goal and set­ting one up. And then I didn’t play again for the team for six months. It felt like I was start­ing all over again.

So I really hope that on the back of Fri­day night, Ruben Loftus-Cheek gets to play against Brazil on Tues­day. Some play­ers shrink on their Eng­land de­but. But he grew.

Now it is im­por­tant he gets the chance to push on if he is to chal­lenge for the World Cup.

It is great that he is on loan at Crys­tal Palace, though even there he is not get­ting the free­dom to play that he had on Fri­day. They’re mired in a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle and need to play a tight 4-4-2 with him on the right.

In Septem­ber last year I ex­pressed con­cern about his de­vel­op­ment. When he turned 21 last Jan­uary he had made 26 ap­pear­ances for Chelsea, just 12 of which were starts. By the time I was 21, in 1978, I had played 104 times for Tot­ten­ham in the top di­vi­sion and 102 of those were in the start­ing XI.

That is not be­cause I was bet­ter but be­cause the land­scape was so dif­fer­ent and young play­ers were thrust into se­nior teams.

On Fri­day, given a chance, Loftus-Cheek took it. Had Ney­mar or Me­sut Ozil played a cou­ple of the balls he did, for Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier, they would have been happy.

He is more of a No8 than Dele Alli, whose great skill is his runs into the box and goals, play­ing off play­ers. But Lof­tusCheek is bet­ter with his back to goal and he has quicker pic­tures in his head to make things hap­pen.

He has a nice touch,

some flair and his pass­ing and vi­sion are ex­cel­lent. But his height and range mean he’s de­cent in the air so he needs to start adding goals to his game.

If he does, he can be an op­tion in a mid­field three or fur­ther for­ward, maybe along­side Adam Lal­lana be­hind Harry Kane. Last year I said that we never got to see enough of him to know what kind of player he is. Now we’re be­gin­ning to see the real Loftus-Cheek. Let’s hope we get to see a lot more of him in the com­ing months.

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