How Gareth put Ruben on the right track
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.’