After seeing Ruben Loftus-Cheek hobble off after 35 minutes against Brazil at Wembley last night, ITV pundit Ryan Giggs questioned whether or not the 21-year-old has the stamina to play regularly.
Having barely featured for Chelsea over the last three years, the midfielder is now hoping to hold down a regular place in the Palace first-team for the entirety of the 2017-18 Premier League season but after playing 90 minutes against Germany on Friday night, Giggs has suggested that Southgate was foolish to start him again just four days later.
Known to have been suffering with a niggling back injury for most of the last year, Ruben’s participation in this Saturday’s crunch clash between Palace and Everton at Selhurst Park has now been put in doubt, throwing a major spanner into the works for Roy Hodgson and his coaching staff tactically. Of course, they have the likes of James McArthur and Jason Puncheon to step in if necessary but neither offer the same sort of cutting edge as Ruben has demonstrated so far this term.
On a purely emotive level I can understand why Gareth was so keen to use Loftus-Cheek again with the Samba Boys in town, having seen him being spoken about so glowingly in the press since Friday but I can’t help but agree with Giggs over Ruben’s match readiness. Far from writing him off as lightweight, the United legend is merely suggesting that more care be taken with a player whose body isn’t yet used to the rigours of playing week in week out at professional level.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the Loftus-Cheek hype train has definitely been a tad out of control over the last few days. Would Southgate have given him another start without that level of chatter in the press? We’ll never know. Now we face an extremely anxious wait to discover if he’ll be able to play any part in Saturday’s relegation six-pointer against David Unsworth and co..