Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the Chelsea teenager, has agreed with the criticism made by his manager, Jose Mourinho, in Sydney on the club's post-season tour. "I need to do better if I want to play for Chelsea,'' said the midfielder.
Mourinho is a huge admirer of the 19-year-old midfielder but wanted to send a message about the importance of endless application.
"He was saying he had a pain in his back," Mourinho said after Chelsea's victory at the ANZ Stadium. "But what I was feeling was that he only had this pain when Sydney had the ball.
"When Chelsea had the ball I never saw a pain in his back. When Chelsea had the ball he was playing very, very well. But when Sydney had the ball I think he was more impressed by watching John Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic work, instead of himself. With Ruben, it is one step back in my relations with him. If he doesn’t know what it is to play for me and Chelsea, it’s one step back."
Recalling the comments, Loftus-Cheek said: "I listened to what the manager said and I wasn’t at the level. I need to do better. I need to do better if I want to play for Chelsea. For me that is a reminder that I have to work hard to get in the team. I just need to do my best.
"I will listen to him and learn from him every way I can. I really want to work hard now."
Loftus-Cheek, who has played three times for Chelsea, is confident he can feature regularly in the first team next season. "I just need to have a good pre-season. Chelsea is always hard to break into but I believe in myself and if I work hard then hopefully things will go well."
He is enjoying life at the European Under-21 Championship finals in the Czech Republic, having come off the bench to help England beat Sweden through Jesse Lingard's goal in Olomouc.
"I have settled in really well and the boys are such nice lads," said Loftus-Cheek, who was uncapped before the tournament. "They have helped me settled in really well. It is now about playing good football and I want to do my best every game and every training session.
"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. That's really good for my development as a young player to be in these situations in a big tournament."
Lingard spoke of his "massive relief" at scoring from Luke Garbutt's corner. "At first I was going to go in the box but Nathan Redmond said stay out of the box," said Lingard. "I was free on the edge of the box, the ball has come to me and as soon as it came to me I knew to hit it.
"It was just a massive relief for everyone in the camp. It is just a weight off our shoulders, now we can go and relax, see the families that are here. We do it for ourselves, our families at home and it is a really good relief."
England's final Group B game comes against Italy in Olomouc on Wednesday.