After having to take him out of the firing line after just 35 minutes of England’s 0-0 draw with Brazil at Wembley last night, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has insisted that Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be afforded time to develop within the international set-up.
Following on from Friday night’s Man of the Match performance from the Palace loanee, Southgate decided to throw him in from the start once more but after three years of barely playing any professional football at Stamford Bridge, the demands placed on the midfielder’s body appear to have taken their toll.
Unfortunately for both Ruben and Crystal Palace, he has already missed a chunk of the 2017/18 campaign through injury and is now facing an anxious wait before discovering if he’ll be fit enough to take part when Everton make the trip to Selhurst Park this weekend. With a back problem having plagued him at regular intervals over the last 12 months this latest setback comes as little surprise to those who take a serious interest in the 21-year-old’s progress but given the head of steam he was starting to build, it’s an extremely frustrating development for all parties.
Having started him twice in the space of just four days, you could be forgiven for thinking that Southgate’s comments in the video attached above are a tad ill-timed. Indeed, Ryan Giggs spoke last night on ITV last night about his concern for Loftus-Cheek’s general fitness after starting two games in such quick succession, not that there’s anything he, Southgate or Palace can do about it now.
In many ways, the last week has presented the perfect example of the stresses and pressures that are placed upon the most talented of England’s young players. Barely given a second thought by large swathes of the press prior to our game against Germany, touted as being superior to Cesc Fabregas in the days that followed and now facing public questions over his long-term suitability to the rigors of international competition, it’s been a real roller-coaster of emotions.
My only hope is that his latest strain isn’t too serious and he’s back in red and blue before we have time to blink. There are now no further international breaks scheduled until March of 2018, meaning he has the perfect opportunity to get his head down and perform well on a weekly basis domestically, from which recognition in the form of England call-ups should arrive organically.