- England manager Gareth Southgate wants to take Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Russia
- Southgate looks certain to pick Crystal Palace star if he stays fit until the summer
- Loftus-Cheek, 22, missed three months with an ankle injury earlier this season
Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks certain to be part of England’s World Cup squad if he can stay free from injury until the end of the season.
Manager Gareth Southgate wants the gifted young midfielder on the plane to Russia and was hugely encouraged to see him make his first start for Crystal Palace since December against Bournemouth last weekend.
Loftus-Cheek impressed England’s manager enormously last November, delivering a man of the match display against Germany and Southgate sees a player who combines flair with a towering presence as a serious option in an area where his squad lacks strength in depth.
Crystal Palace midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks likely to go to the World Cup with England
England manager Gareth Southgate is set to pick Loftus-Cheek as long as he stays injury-free
It is believed Southgate is still pondering three places in his 23-man party and he is keen to see Loftus-Cheek take one of them. At the same time, he will not be trying to persuade James Milner to come out of international retirement despite the 32-year-old excelling for Liverpool this season.
When Southgate spoke to Milner at the start of the season, the former Manchester City star made it very clear that his England days were over.
Loftus-Cheek however, is at the beginning of his international journey and it frustrated Southgate that he wasn’t able to select him for the games against Holland and Italy last month. This, after all, is a player Glenn Hoddle has likened to Michael Ballack.
On loan from Chelsea, Loftus-Cheek was sidelined by ankle and, more recently, knee problems after limping out of a defeat by Arsenal in December. He has played just 108 minutes since.
He went back to Chelsea for rehabilitation, with a decision taken not to have surgery on his troublesome ankle. When, however, he tried to come back at the end of February he suffered a further setback with a knee problem.
Now, though, Loftus-Cheek appears to be fit and with ongoing concerns about Jack Wilshere’s fragility, the England boss very much hopes the he can demonstrate at Palace that his injury issues are now behind him.
Loftus-Cheek has two full England caps, both coming in 0-0 draws — with Brazil and Germany
A back injury cut short Loftus-Cheek’s second England appearance as he was subbed off early
Southgate is a keen admirer of Loftus-Cheek, having worked with him in the Under-21 set-up
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.