LESS than a yr in the past, it appeared the world was at his toes.
However like too many at Chelsea, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is treading water.
Too good to be allowed to return on mortgage.
Not adequate, it appears, to be trusted to begin.
Accidents haven’t helped, after all.
That persistent, debilitating again drawback has been a think about Loftus-Cheek’s arrested growth.
However the season at Crystal Palace, adopted by his World Cup begins in opposition to Panama and Belgium, ought to have been a platform, a springboard.
It’s laborious to say that’s the case. The truth is, unattainable.
By this stage final season, regardless of being in the midst of a 10-week lay-off via an ankle drawback, Loftus-Cheek had made 15 Premier League begins. He made 21 in complete, plus his England breakthrough.
Quick ahead 12 months, and Maurizio Sarri has trusted him to begin only one within the Premier League – within the shock defeat at Wolves.
Sure, there have been 11 appearances off the bench. 5 begins in Europe and three within the home cups.
However it isn’t sufficient. Nowhere close to sufficient.
Loftus-Cheek is 10 days older than Harry Winks, who missed out on his World Cup likelihood via damage.
But whereas the Chelsea man has been twiddling his thumbs on the bench or within the therapy room, Winks has been getting matches, begins, massive minutes, on the pitch.
Winks has made 15 Prem begins, plus eight video games off the bench. Plus sufficient 5 begins each in Europe and within the Carabao Cup.
It’s on the pitch, within the warmth of battle, that you simply actually be taught.
Which one in all them can count on to be in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the opening Euro 2020 qualifiers? The one who’s taking part in for his workforce.
The again drawback means Loftus-Cheek was left behind when Chelsea flew to Sweden on Wednesday, though he hopes to characteristic within the FA Cup fifth spherical tie with Manchester United on Monday.
However the midfielder has to begin making progress once more, earlier than he begins to regress.
Many Blues followers need to see extra of him. And rightly so.
Certainly he would have the ability to make a distinction in some video games, if he was given a correct run.
However it’s laborious to see it occurring beneath Sarri, when, with Jorginho on the base of his midfield trio and N’Golo Kante on the proper, the opposite slot is contested by Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley after which Loftus-Cheek.
Perhaps the Englishman ought to have pushed tougher for an additional transfer in the summertime, ought to have demanded the possibility for taking part in time when, by the tip of August, the lie of the land was extra clear.
That’s with the good thing about hindsight, although.
But it should, absolutely, inform Loftus-Cheek’s pondering this summer time.
He has to play, to enhance, to flower. If it isn’t going to occur at Chelsea, then he should go elsewhere.