There are few injuries worse for a professional athlete than a torn Achilles, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is sadly proving that truism right. Sixteen months after that fateful night in New England, the 24-year-old looks a shadow of his former self.
Monday’s match was his tenth appearance since ostensibly “recovering” from the injury, but it was painfully evident that he’s still not ready to be effective at the level Chelsea need — especially after all the new signings, including Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, who will compete directly for minutes with him.
Obviously, this is not a great situation for anyone involved. Any criticism of RLC must be tempered by the injury, but at the same time, we cannot afford to effectively play a man down in most games. We were able to get away with it against Brighton, just as we were able to get away with it in his starts against Aston Villa and Norwich City during Project Restart. But at this point, he really should not be seeing any significant minutes outside of the Carabao Cup.
That may be harsh, but given the level of competition and our stated aims this season, we cannot afford to be anything else. Lampard’s obviously willing to be patient, but he has to make the tough calls if he wants to lead us to the trophies we all desire.
“Ruben obviously has been out for a long time and even his return to play was pretty broken by the lockdown and the restart when he was just available to play a few games. So we certainly have to give him a bit of time on those fronts.”
“[No.10] is a position that Ruben can play for us, we’ve got injuries with Ziyech out and Pulisic out as well. They are players that will come back and give me lots of options, so it was interesting for me to see Ruben in that number 10 position today, he can certainly give us lots in those areas.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Independent
We know what RLC can do, which is precisely why it’s so sad that he cannot ... do ... at the moment. He’s got a long-term contract and we have a big enough squad that he can take the time he needs to properly recover — assuming he can in fact recover. If he does (and if we can figure out a way to get him there), he will be once again a fantastic player for us.
If he does.