Frank Lampard has vowed Ruben Loftus-Cheek will realise his full potential at Chelsea, in a staunch defence of the England midfielder after “reactionary” criticism.
Loftus-Cheek has spent the last 16 months grafting back to fitness after a nasty torn Achilles, and was the brunt of heavy criticism in a patchy showing in Monday’s 3-1 Premier League win at Brighton.
Gary Neville claimed Loftus-Cheek could have wasted his chances at Chelsea, tipping the Blues to “cash in” by selling the 24-year-old.
But despite Chelsea’s £200million summer overhaul Lampard has insisted he retains full faith in Loftus-Cheek’s ability to thrive at Stamford Bridge after his lengthy injury battle.
“I know Ruben’s story probably second-best to how he knows it,” said Lampard.
“But Ruben had a terrible injury, an injury that he worked very hard to come back from.
“He was just about to start playing Under-23s games when lockdown came in, and then he worked incredibly hard in restart and got a start against Aston Villa.
“He was due to start against Bayern Munich in the last game of the season but had a bit of an issue on the day of the game, and after that he has trained brilliantly to get fit again for the start of the season.
“And I think if there is harsh criticism of him in the game against Brighton then it is certainly very harsh.
“Because to come back from injury like he has, it’s been difficult for him. He’s put a lot of hours into it.
“He’s a hugely talented player and a great lad. So there will be lots more to come from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
“Unfortunately it’s the nature of this game that it’s very reactionary, and people will say it as they see it.
“But knowing Ruben’s story behind the scenes, he’s fought back really hard to get back to where he is, and he’s a very, very talented player.”
Chelsea will host defending champions Liverpool in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge, with the Blues well aware of the scale of the challenge against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Christian Pulisic is still not ready for action after hamstring trouble, while Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva will have to wait again for their Chelsea debuts.
Striker Timo Werner is fit after a picking up a dead leg at Brighton however.
“Ben Chilwell’s not ready for the game, Christian Pulisic is not ready for the game and is quite similar to Ben,” said Lampard.
“We hope they are training and progressing over the next week or so
“Hakim Ziyech is also not ready for the game, but Timo Werner is fit.
“Thiago’s been training with us for the last three or four days, we’re just working with him on his fitness for the moment, so Liverpool will come too soon for him.”