Sport Soccer

Thursday 16 August 2018

It would be stupid to rule us out: Ruben Loftus-Cheek backs England talent

The 22-year-old is part of the third youngest Three Lions side to head to a World Cup.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes England have a really good squad
Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes England have a really good squad

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes England boast the kind of “frightening” talent that means it would be “stupid to rule us out” of World Cup glory.

Most of Gareth Southgate’s side are at St George’s Park busily preparing for next month’s tournament, just a week on from the 23-man squad for Russia being revealed.

The England manager largely selected promise over experience, with Loftus-Cheek among the more callow squad members having appeared just twice for his country.

The 22-year-old is part of the third youngest Three Lions side to head to a World Cup but backs up captain Harry Kane’s belief that they can win.

“Yes, of course,” Loftus-Cheek said. “I think it would be stupid to rule us out.

“We have a really good squad, it’s young and youthful, but we are all here on merit and how well we’ve done this season.

“In training you look about and the talent is frightening. We have a good chance.”

Loftus-Cheek has long been touted as a future star at Chelsea, but it is on loan with Crystal Palace that he began turning potential into performances.

Those displays – along with his work with Southgate at Under-21s level – led to a maiden senior call-up in November, when he produced a man-of-the-match debut against Germany.

Injury forced him off days later against Brazil before another issue put the World Cup in jeopardy.

“It was a blow to come off against Brazil,” Loftus-Cheek said.

“I was really excited to play again at Wembley for England. It’s unfortunate, but it happens in football.

“But I ended up playing the weekend after for Palace and my back felt all right, so I was delighted with that.

“Then the blow to my ankle came and I was very disappointed with that after I’d been playing well, I wanted to carry things on.

“It did give me doubts about this summer and that I’d give my best and work hard to get back.

“Originally, I thought that was my season done, but I got back quicker than expected, so I think I was able to play last six, seven games and that was really good.”

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England’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah during a training session at St George’s Park, Burton (David Davies/PA)

Loftus-Cheek impressed as Palace eased to Premier League survival – performances that make the midfielder confident of stepping up in Russia.

“100 per cent I feel ready for it,” he said.

“I’m not one to bow under immense pressure, I know how to deal with it.

“As a youth player growing up and playing for England, you deal with it then and get used to it.

“You just carry on into the bigger stages and it becomes natural for me.

“Playing on the World Cup stage excites me to do well and help the team.”

Representing the Three Lions is all Loftus-Cheek cares about right now, brushing aside questions about his club future as he prepares to return to parent club Chelsea from Palace.

“I’m not thinking about that too much, to be honest, right now,” he added.

“I’m trying to focus on this summer and what’s to come because I think this tournament is too big to be overlooking and not giving my full focus.

“So, right now my mind is on that, but I am back Chelsea for pre-season anyway.

“After the World Cup that’s where I will be, and I will decide when that time comes.”

Press Association

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