Gareth Southgate says Ruben Loftus-Cheek a threat to Chelsea players
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 12/11/17 5:28pm
Gareth Southgate says Ruben Loftus-Cheek has suffered at Chelsea because senior players have felt threatened by his talent.
Loftus-Cheek made his England debut on Friday against Germany at Wembley, and impressed enough to earn the man-of-the-match award.
The midfielder has been at Chelsea since he was a child, but has struggled to break into the first-team at Stamford Bridge, and is spending this season on loan at Crystal Palace.
Southgate said: "He has been able to battle through difficult spells at Chelsea, training with senior players who recognise his talent so get into him in training.
"Have they kept him in his place? Yes, I imagine they probably saw the threat.
"This season going out and playing has helped him. In the early season I saw him and he showed flashes of what we saw against Germany. I think he can affect big matches like he did."
Despite the plaudits that Loftus-Cheek earned for his performance against the world champions, Southgate believes that there are plenty of improvements for the 21-year-old still to make.
He said: "I've known Ruben a long time - I think the first time I saw him was in an under-16 international.
"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.
"He can probably add a little bit more quality in the final third. He can probably go and score more goals given some of the attributes he has, but I was really pleased to see the effect he had and to get a performance like that.
"When you see his physical size, you think you'll see a certain type of player. Then I saw what you all saw against Germany - one that is so technically-gifted.
"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."
"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."