Ruben Loftus-Cheek is “fit as a fiddle” but the physical aspect is just one of several massive hurdles of recovering from a major injury. And injuries don’t get much more major than a full grade Achilles rupture.
Loftus-Cheek has been back training with the team since the lockdown, but his ten appearances for the team have ranged from very bad to just okay, and it’s painfully obvious that he’s got a long ways to go yet to truly and completely recover from the injury — if that is even possible, as in many cases, it really isn’t.
Fortunately, Ruben is still young (24) and has the right motivation and mentality to succeed. Unfortunately, what he doesn’t have at Chelsea right now is too many opportunities to play, not with the heightened ambitions and the influx of new players in his position(s). As much as we could use a fully functioning RLC, that RLC doesn’t quite exist right now, as head coach Frank Lampard explains.
“He wants to play and the reality is I have a lot of competition in those areas when I look at the squad. Ruben is versatile - he can play different roles in midfield and sometimes off the side. He’s had a difficult time and the injury was a bad one. He hasn’t played as many minutes for this club as he would liked to have done for different reasons but just before his injury he was playing really well and contributing.
“I was really looking forward to getting him back fit and working with him because I know what he can do. He gives us something different in terms of his physicality, how he plays and how he receives the ball but there is also a priority for everybody that Ruben plays games.
“That’s the delicate balance of what we’re trying to get right over the next week and we’ll do what feels right.”
As much as it may look like a bad omen for his career, the best way to get that “balance” right is to find him a loan that would give him ample opportunities to play and rediscover his comfort on the ball and confidence on the pitch. That may be tough to admit for all involved, but it’s something that Lampard’s advocating for, and that’s probably a good sign that it will indeed happen.
“I’m very open with Ruben and we’ve had a couple of conversations in the last week. He’s fit as a fiddle so he can play week-in, week-out and he needs to play coming off the back of a lot of work now. He would have been playing games earlier if it wasn’t for lockdown.
“There’s a possibility that he may go out to play games because I think that will be great for him. We hold him in very high regard here, I certainly do and that could be a good option for him. If that’s not the right option he’ll be competitive in this squad as well because of the qualities he has. I’m relaxed about it but I want to find the best path for Ruben and the best path for us so at the minute we’ll see with the week we’ve got ahead of us.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
The likes of Aston Villa and West Ham are among the “at least eight” clubs who are supposedly interested in a potential Loftus-Cheek loan, so we should be able to make the choice that’s best for his career and for the team.