MX23RW : Friday, February 22 09:08:46

Ruben Loftus-Cheek happy with belated Chelsea start

The England midfielder played in Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Hungarian champions Vidi after suffering from foot and back problems.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek says he enjoyed his first Chelsea start since January 2017.

A successful loan spell at Crystal Palace earned the 22-year-old a place in England’s World Cup squad and a chance at Stamford Bridge under Maurizio Sarri.

Two substitute appearances should have been followed by a start, only for foot and back problems to delay the powerful midfielder, who played 66 minutes of Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Hungarian champions Vidi.

“It’s good to be back out there,” Loftus-Cheek told Chelsea TV.

“I had a niggle on my back which I had to take carefully, because I’ve had a lot of injuries there.

“I just had to stay patient with that really. It felt good.”

Loftus-Cheek missed out on Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the forthcoming matches with Croatia and Spain.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek played for England at the World Cup, but missed out on the squad named on Thursday
Ruben Loftus-Cheek played for England at the World Cup, but missed out on the squad named on Thursday (Owen Humphreys/PA)

And he acknowledged he needs to focus on himself for the time being.

“I’ll build up my fitness and hopefully I can have a good block of training and football,” he added.

Loftus-Cheek’s physical and technical capabilities were evident on Thursday, his strong dribbling troubling the visitors as Chelsea earned a second win in Europa League Group L despite missing a host of chances.

Sarri’s style of play is something Loftus-Cheek enjoys. And he thinks the Blues, who have five wins and two draws from seven Premier League games ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton, can get better and better.

Loftus-Cheek added: “It’s a positive, always on the front foot, wanting to press and attacking football, creative football.

“I still feel we’ve got a lot of potential and we’re still winning games. It’s very exciting to see what this team can do this season.”

A goal from Alvaro Morata, left, was welcomed by Chelsea assistant boss Gianfranco Zola
A goal from Alvaro Morata, left, was welcomed by Chelsea assistant boss Gianfranco Zola (Nigel French/PA)

Alvaro Morata’s goal was the difference and Chelsea hope the Spain striker’s confidence is boosted by his second goal of the season.

Gianfranco Zola, Sarri’s assistant, said: “We are very delighted about that.

“It was important Alvaro was more involved in the action. He was the main reference going forwards and he allowed the team to build up good actions.

“Of course the goal for a striker is important. He’s in a context where his work is not only scoring, but he’s also supporting the players.”


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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