Ruben Loftus-Cheek is hoping to play a big role at Chelsea this season, but has only featured in two substitute appearances totaling little over 30 minutes in the five games so far (six, if you also count the Community Shield).
That’s partly due to his age and the level of competition for the position, but it’s also due in great part to his international commitments. His participation in the World Cup delayed his return to Chelsea, and more pertinently, has now saddled him with yet another injury. None of that is RLC’s fault; it’s just terribly unlucky timing.
Coach Sarri agrees, and is hoping that it’s just a minor knock.
“Loftus-Cheek has a little problem with the right tibia. You saw today (Saturday) he wasn’t able to play, but I hope he can recover in the next two or three days. Maybe [Thursday’s game is] an opportunity I can give him a chance. I don’t know now because I want to have a very clear the picture of the situation, who are the players that need to rest or not.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Goal
Sarri has at least seven midfielders he can choose from if everyone’s healthy, eight if we also count Ethan Ampadu (and nine if we also count David Luiz). Of those seven, three are currently injured or dealing with the effects of injury: Fàbregas, Kovačić, and Loftus-Cheek. But it’s RLC who’s losing out on the most because of it. Thursday’s Europa League match would’ve been the perfect opportunity for his first start of the season and it sounds like Sarri is willing to give it to him as well.
If he can get fit in time.
Injuries of course have been a near-constant concern with Ruben for as long as we can recall, stretching back even to his youth team days. Such frequent setbacks could affect any player’s mentality, but he’s managed to fight through them thus far and will hopefully do so again. He certainly has the support structure at Chelsea to help him do so, including from the likes of N’Golo Kanté, who knows what it’s like to keep working hard for future rewards, however unlikely they may appear.
“Everybody has some difficulty at some point in their careers but we need to use this moment to build ourselves as a player and learn from that. I had my difficulty when I was younger but now I cannot say I didn’t deserve that. It helped me to build myself as a player and as a person.
“The only thing is to use it as a thing to learn and improve.”
Kanté’s talking in more general terms, but the idea remains the same. Learn and improve, tactically, mentally, physically. Whatever it takes.
“...for sure he is a good player. Now he’s in the England squad. He did well last season at Crystal Palace and I think he’s ready to play. He’s played some good games and now it’s the manager’s decision. We all have the chance to be at Chelsea and to play with some of the best players in the league.
“We can all learn from that but he needs to keep working, to keep improving and I hope it will come at the right time.”
-N’Golo Kanté; source: Sky Sports
Hopefully that time will be in Thessaloniki, Greece on Thursday, as Chelsea begin this season’s Europa League campaign.