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Loftus-Cheek ‘held back’ at Chelsea

England boss Gareth Southgate has admitted he believes midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been held back from fulfilling his full potential by Chelsea, who traditionally opt for buying talent rather than nurturing stars from their academy.

Loftus-Cheek was given the man of the match award after England’s 0-0 draw with Germany on Friday, a game which was the midfieldr’s international debut.

It would have been a proud moment for Loftus-Cheek, who is on loan at Crystal Palace after realising the little chances available at his contracted club Chelsea.

Southgate made a brave move by selecting the 21-year-old for his England squad, but it is a decision that has certainly paid off. The manager was full of praise for the player too, but admits he feels he has been held back at Stamford Bridge.

“I’ve known Ruben a long time – I think the first time I saw him was an Under-16 international – I think Dele Alli played that night in his first game too,” Southgate said.

“And when you see his physical size, you think you’ll also see a certain type of player. Then I saw what you all saw against Germany – one that is so technically gifted.

“He’s also been able to battle through difficult spells at Chelsea where he’s been training with senior players who have recognised his talent and so they get to him in training.

“Have they kept him in his place? Yes. They probably saw the threat.

“Going out and playing this season has helped him. I watched him early season and I saw flashes. I think he can affect big matches.

“He can add more quality in the final third. He can probably go and score more goals given his attributes.

“But I was pleased to see the effect he had. He’s at his best receiving the ball behind the opposition midfield, driving towards goal and sliding passes into people. He can take the ball under pressure too which is a great skill to have.

“And he’s an unassuming, quiet, polite kid – I hope he takes huge belief and confidence from that because he’s shown what he is capable of.

“I’ve had plenty of long conversations with him over the years about the areas he is really strong in and the areas he needs to develop.”
[Quotes via Goal]

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