On Saturday, in the warm-up friendly against Nigeria, England manager Gareth Southgate chose to start with a midfield trio of Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli, leaving Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the bench and Jordan Henderson safe to take a few extra days of recovery following the Champions League final. The team played well, especially in a two-goal first half, and finished off a 2-1 victory.
So well did the first eleven do that there was immediate speculation that this would be Southgate’s preferred first team when England kick-off their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on June 18th. That would be bad news for Loftus-Cheek, who came on for a 23-minute cameo and had little impact on the game.
But perhaps the never-say-die spirit of England’s Brave Gary Cahill has infected the 22-year-old midfielder. Rather than focus on his disappointment at not starting, the possibility that he might ride the bench in Russia, he’s instead focusing on the things he can control. And the thing he can control the most is his attitude, even if he doesn’t get a start in England’s last friendly, against Costa Rica on Thursday at Elland Road.
“I have been given no indication if I’ll start, but I will work hard in training and whatever happens, happens. As a player I’m ready and I’m backing the team whether I start or not.
”I didn’t play my best game (against Nigeria) but I did some good things. As a squad we’re ready and using the next game as well for our preparation before we head to Russia. In my head I’m still a young player in terms of experience in football, so I’ll just take it as it comes.
“Of course I won’t let the opportunity of being at a World Cup pass me by. I’ve always said if I get a chance I’ll do my best. I won’t shy away from any opposition, so I’m ready.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek; source: Evening Standard
Head down. Work hard. Make your own luck. Very Cahill-esque.
We have no idea how RLC’s World Cup will go. But this attitude will stand him in very good stead for his career. He’s learning the right lessons about how to be a pro.