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England U21 manager addresses Ruben Loftus-Cheek's perceived attitude issues

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Other than Loic Remy's sweet strike, the most interesting to come out of Chelsea's trip to Australia were manager Jose Mourinho's comments about Ruben Loftus-Cheek's performance.  After many months of building up the 19-year-old, which ended up bordering on obsessiveness even, Mourinho's harsh words were perhaps not entirely unexpected or even unreasonable, but were still a bit shocking.

Happily, England U21 manager Gareth Southgate has not seen any such attitude and work-rate issues from the youngest member of his squad at the Euro U21 tournament in the Czech Republic.

"We mustn't get this wrong. This isn't a character that we've had issues with. This is a good kid who trains well. There's no problem. Frankly, we wouldn't have brought him into the squad if there was."

"I had a chat with Ruben about [Mourinho's comments]. He knows the level, he knows what's expected. He's a determined kid but he's young, so we keep challenging him. In a sense, it's good because if the manager didn't care about you then he wouldn't make that comment. With us, he's made sure that he's on time for everything and he's focused. Lesson learnt."

"I don't think he necessarily needed a kick up. I think his levels have been fine and he's had a reminder. There's a phrase: Tough on talent. And he's a talented player. It all goes back to that constant challenging of young players. He's aware that he's dipped his toe in the water of the Premier League and it went fine, but he knows he's got to keep proving himself."

-Gareth Southgate; source: Sky

Southgate handed Loftus-Cheek his U21 international debut on Sunday, and thanks to England's rather lackluster showings so far, there's a decent chance the young man gets more chances going forward.  Especially since the England setup seems to share Chelsea's excitement about Ruben's promise.

"We know the qualities that he has and we know that it's early stages for him. It's the very early stages of him learning the game at first-team level and with us. He's a boy that we want to develop at the right speed but one we think has got a promising future."

-Gareth Southgate; source: Sky

England's final group game is on Wednesday against Italy.  They need a win or some help from Portugal and Sweden to make it to the next round.

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