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Ruben Loftus-Cheek speaks on Crystal Palace loan experience, England National Team debut

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West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Ahead of Chelsea’s match-up (and 2-1 victory) against Crystal Palace, the Blues’ official website caught up with loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The young midfielder, who joined the club at the age of 8, got his first experience as part of our loan army in a one-year switch to Selhurst Park made during the summer transfer window last year.

Upon his arrival, RLC got to work with former Ajax coach Frank de Boer, an appointment that brought hope of changes taking place in Palace’s traditional English football ways on the pitch. However, the disconnect between philosophies was clear as their season didn’t get off to the best of starts as De Boer’s tactics, even though possession-based, were quite dull. They racked up four losses in the first four Premier League games without even scoring a goal, and the Dutch boss was rightly sacked after being in charge of the club for just 450 minutes.

“I was really excited going into the season because it was a new club, and I’d never been anywhere else before. I met Frank de Boer in the summer, we had a chat and that’s what made me want to go to Palace.”

“I was really happy to be playing regularly and having the chance to get better and improve. That experience of playing every week, which I haven’t done previously, is massive and it’s just a shame I’ve had a few injuries.”

“Obviously we didn’t get off to the best start as a team but on a personal level I felt I did quite well, I think Frank was really good, he brought a lot to the team but we just couldn’t produce the performances in the first few games of the season.”

-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Source: Chelsea FC

In place of De Boer, Palace went back to roots by bringing former English boss Roy Hodgson. The new head coach, with the help of RLC, made a better impact and helped Crystal Palace drag themselves out of the relegation zone, going as high as 14th on the league table in game-week 18 after a 3-0 win over Leicester which also included an assist by our boy. In total, Loftus-Cheek has scored once and grabbed 2 assists in his time with the Eagles.

No wonder Hodgson went as far as to claim that they would be keen on adding his permanently to Palace’s group...

“Ruben’s a player we like very much. We’re very impressed with him, delighted with the way he’s developed as a player during the time he’s been here. I’m pretty sure that if he’s ever available for sale, we would certainly be in there with our hand up as one of the potential buyers.”

-Roy Hodgson; Source: ESPN

Keep dreaming!

“When Roy came in, like when any new manager starts, it was a clean slate for all the players. You have to train well, work hard and hopefully your quality comes through. Under Roy, I started playing in a different position but it’s all about learning. In the first game of the season, with Frank in charge, we played 3-4-3, the same formation as Chelsea, and I was on the right of the front three.”

“We then played Liverpool away and went to five at the back with three in midfield and two up front, and I played in an attacking midfield role off the right-hand side. We carried on playing that way for a while until Frank left.”

“The first few games under Roy I was in the number 10 role, and then after Palace played 4-4-2 against Chelsea we stuck with that. I’ve played on the right and left of midfield. It’s good because different managers have different mentalities and ways of playing, so I’m always learning.”

“I’d say the training is different under Roy. It’s very tactical and he gets his vision across to the players so well, he’s done a really job since he came in. We’re not in the best position but hopefully we can turn it around before the end of the season.”

In fact, RLC’s impact at Crystal Palace was so good, he got his first call up for the England’s senior squad. He repaid manager Gareth Southgate’s faith in him by outshining the likes of Mesut Özil and Leroy Sané and winning a Man of the Match award on his debut, in England’s friendly against Germany that ended on a goalless draw.

“It was a big achievement for me personally. I was actually at home when I found out I was in the squad, you don’t get a call, I just saw on Sky that I’d been selected. My phone started going off and I had some really nice messages. It was a great feeling but when you get there and meet up with the squad it’s time to focus and get down to work.”

“Although they were friendlies, we were playing Germany and Brazil so they were big games. I found out the day before the Germany game that I was starting and I was really excited to be playing for my country at Wembley, and against Germany as well.”

“It was good that myself and Tammy were called up together and Joe Gomez, who I’ve known a long time, was also selected. Gary Cahill was there as well so there were no problems in terms of us settling in, and obviously I know Steve Holland and Gareth Southgate well anyway. The training was really good and the results weren’t too bad considering the quality of the opponents.”

-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Source: Chelsea FC

Praise for RLC after his great performance against Germany came not only from fans and pundits but also from the English Team coach himself as Southgate, who had worked for years alongside the 22-year-old during his time at the helm of England’s U21 squad, was quite glad with what the midfielder brought to the pitch against opponents with the quality of die Mannschaft.

“Ruben Loftus-Cheek did everything I know he can do. It took him 10 minutes to realise he is OK at this level. He is capable of anything. He has the physical attributes and can handle the ball. He will gain huge confidence from it. There will be harder tests as the likes of Germany will have another gear to go to.”

-Gareth Southgate; Source: Reuters

Unfortunately, Loftus-Cheek’s development was halted by an ankle injury suffered in a league game against Arsenal which has kept him out of commission since the end of December. But thankfully the youngster seems to have put his injury behind him and will be back in training with Crystal Palace’s first team from this week onward; and they definitely need him as they’ve lost their last four games in PL (including their encounter with Chelsea yesterday) and find themselves in the relegation zone, once again.

Hopefully, he will be able to carry on from his previous form at Palace and perhaps earn a place in the England’s World Cup.

The sky is the limit!