Ruben Loftus-Cheek belied his age and experience by being one of the best players on the pitch for England in their game against Germany last Friday. Now Gareth Southgate has made a surprise claim about the midfielder and his parent team.
With the World Cup just seven months away Gareth Southgate will have some very big decision on his hands when it comes to squad selection. On Friday night Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave him a big question.
After Harry Winks impressive start to international football last month Loftus-Cheek, the Chelsea man on loan at Crystal Palace, outshone the much more experienced Jake Livermore to put his own name in contention for Russia.
Winks impressed during the bore that was England's 1-0 win over Lithuania. Image: PA
The 21 year-old was making only his 41st appearance in senior football after 32 games over three seasons for the Blues, mainly as a substitute, have been followed by seven starts and one sub appearance for Palace this season.
It's good to see him getting first team football, especially after it was felt he was going to get more chances at Stamford Bridge last year. Speaking ahead of the friendly against Brazil on Tuesday Southgate made a claim about why Loftus-Cheek wasn't getting more football at Chelsea, saying:
"He's also been able to battle through difficult spells at Chelsea where he's been training with senior players who have recognised his talent and so they get to him in training.
"Have they kept him in his place? Yes. They probably saw the threat."
Loftus Cheek with the Premier League title after making six appearances in the league last season. Image: PA
The claim by the England manager is essentially that Chelsea teammates stopped Loftus-Cheek from playing to his best by targeting him in training and stopping him from becoming a first team player.
On Loftus-Cheek's spell at Palace the former Palace defender said, "Going out and playing this season has helped him. I watched him early-season and I saw flashes. I think he can affect big matches.
"He can add more quality in the final third. He can probably go and score more goals given his attributes. But I was pleased to see the affect he had."
With no experienced midfielders really putting their hands up for guaranteed selection for next summer the likes of Loftus-Cheek, Winks and Nathaniel Chalobah have a real chance of going to Russia.
Will Loftus-Cheek make the plane?