Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s performance for England against Germany last Friday rightly earned him plenty of praise and potentially gives Gareth Southgate a welcome selection headache ahead of the World Cup.
The Chelsea midfielder, currently on loan at Crystal Palace, was one of five players to make their debut as England held the world champions to a 0-0 draw.
Loftus-Cheek impressed in the midfield, producing a polished display alongside captain Eric Dier of Tottenham and West Brom’s Jake Livermore.
Assured performance on the international stage
The 21-year-old has made eight appearances for Palace this season after joining on loan in the summer and he didn’t look out of place on the international stage.
England have struggled for quality in the middle of the pitch in recent times, with likes of Dier and Jordan Henderson failing to provide a creative spark for the national side.
Loftus-Cheek looked comfortable on the ball in deep positions, while further forward he was happy to take the ball on the turn and try to make things happen.
Neither Dier or Henderson are that type of player and Southgate would do well to consider Loftus-Cheek’s claims for an extended run in the side.
Exciting glimpse of the future?
Read any football news outlet after most England games and you’ll see criticism of the team’s lack of adventure in midfield, but Loftus-Cheek offered exciting glimpses that he could be an option to cure that problem.
With Tottenham’s Harry Winks showing some serious promise before picking up an injury, Southgate has some big decisions to make over the coming months.
England’s embarrassing exit at Euro 2016 against Iceland left many fans in despair at the sterile state of the national team, and expecting a midfield devoid of flair to perform any better at the World Cup would be a major mistake.
Southgate went with a three-man defence against Germany and he has confirmed that’s the way he plans to line-up in Russia.
Welcome selection headache for Southgate
Loftus-Cheek gelled well with Dier and Livermore, and there’s a case to be made for all three retaining their places in midfield at the moment.
Henderson will no doubt come back into contention when he’s fit, but if England are going to enjoy any success at the World Cup it should be either Dier or him in the team, not both.
Dele Alli is a certainty to take his place in the side, hopefully ahead of Livermore, which leaves Loftus-Cheek, Winks and probably Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere fighting it out for the other spot.
From a position where England were lacking options, Southgate suddenly has some creativity at his disposal.
Let’s hope he’s brave enough to utilise it in Russia.