Saturday 3 December 2016

Loftus-Cheek aiming high at Chelsea

Published 22/06/2015 | 13:11

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is determined to establish himself at Chelsea
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is determined to establish himself at Chelsea

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has taken Jose Mourinho's recent criticism on-board and vowed to put in the work required to establish himself at Chelsea.

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There is a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounding the talented midfielder, widely touted as the Blues' first academy graduate to become a first-team regular since John Terry.

Loftus-Cheek has impressed since being brought into the senior set-up earlier this year, making four first-team appearances for the club he has been with since Under-8s level.

However, Mourinho claimed their relationship had taken "one step back" after a lackadaisical performance in a post-season friendly against Sydney FC which saw him hooked after just 27 minutes.

It was a cutting assessment but one which teenager Loftus-Cheek finds hard to disagree with.

"I listened to what the manager said and I wasn't at the level. I need to do better if I want to play for Chelsea," the 19-year-old said.

"For me, that is a reminder that I have to work hard to get in the team. I just need to do my best, work hard and do my best."

Asked if Mourinho can make him a great player, Loftus-Cheek said: "Yeah, I will listen to him and learn from him every way I can. I really want to work hard now.

"Hopefully I just need to have a good pre-season. I want to work really hard. Chelsea is always hard to break into, but I believe in myself and if I work hard then hopefully things will go well."

Loftus-Cheek's immediate focus, though, is on helping England Under-21s secure progression to the European Championship semi-finals.

A surprise inclusion in Gareth Southgate's squad, he impressed off the bench as Sweden were eked out 1-0 in Sunday's must-win Group B encounter.

It was Loftus-Cheek's first competitive appearance at under-21 level and the win boosts the Young Lions' chances of avoiding a third straight group-stage exit.

"I am really happy with result, to nick it at the end," Loftus-Cheek said.

"Now we are in a good position to go far in the tournament, if we get the win next game we can do well.

"I have settled in really well and the boys are such nice lads," he continued. "They have helped me settle in really well.

"It is now about playing good football and I want to do my best every game and every training session.

"I want to do my best at all times and help the team go far in the tournament."

The European Championship is certainly a good experience for a player who has so long been tipped to become a star.

"All I do is try to do my best and I try to enjoy my football as well," Loftus-Cheek said. "I don't really let the pressure get to me.

"I just try to play football and enjoy it. Hopefully that will bring the best out of me.

"I think that's really good for my development as a young player to be in these situations in a big tournament.

"This is my first Euros as an England player. It's really good for me, good experience for me to take on in the future as well."

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