How Gareth put Ruben on the right track

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - SPORTS - By Rob Draper

RUBEN Loftus-Cheek con­fided in Gareth South­gate over the years when he found his way to the Chelsea first team blocked. And the Eng­land man­ager has re­vealed that some se­nior pros at the club have not ex­actly gone easy on the young mid­fielder, en­sur­ing that he knew his place as he rose through the ranks.

Loftus-Cheek has strug­gled to make an im­pact at Chelsea and has had to go out on loan to Crys­tal Palace this sea­son to de­velop his ca­reer.

South­gate (left), who man­aged Loftus-Cheek in his Eng­land Un­der 21 ca­reer, said: ‘I’ve had plenty of long con­ver­sa­tions with him over the years about the ar­eas he is really strong in and the ar­eas he needs to de­velop. He has been able to bat­tle through dif­fi­cult spells at Chelsea, train­ing with se­nior play­ers who recog­nise his tal­ent so get into him in train­ing.

‘They prob­a­bly saw the threat. This sea­son go­ing out and play­ing has helped him.

‘In the early sea­son I saw him and he showed flashes of what we saw against Ger­many on Fri­day and I think he can af­fect big matches like he did. He can prob­a­bly add a lit­tle bit more qual­ity in the fi­nal third, he can prob­a­bly go and score more goals given some of the at­tributes he has got. But I was really pleased to see the ef­fect he had. It was an Un­der 16 in­ter­na­tional where I first saw him. The thing that hit me was that you see his phys­i­cal size and you think you are go­ing to see a cer­tain type of player. Then you see the type of player you saw against Ger­many, one that is tech­ni­cally so gifted.

‘The most pleas­ing thing for me is that he is such an unas­sum­ing, quiet, po­lite kid and I hope he takes huge be­lief and con­fi­dence from his first game be­cause he has shown what he is ca­pa­ble of on a big stage. You see him best re­ceiv­ing the ball be­hind the op­po­si­tion mid­field, driv­ing to­wards goal and be­ing able to slide passes into peo­ple and, of course, he can re­ceive un­der pres­sure which is a great at­tribute to have.

‘To­wards the end of the Ger­many game he dropped a lit­tle bit deeper and at that stage of the game it was fine.’

De­spite those ex­er­tions on Fri­day night, Loftus-Cheek could re­tain his place against Brazil on Tues­day.

South­gate said: ‘We will see how he re­cov­ers. The Ger­many game will have taken a lot out of all of them and Tues­day will be a much harder test be­cause of the ef­fort we put in. We’ll have to think about who is ready but what­ever hap­pens these two games will be a bril­liant ex­pe­ri­ence for us.’

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