Former England and current Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has backed youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek to become a “top player” at international level.
On-loan Loftus-Cheek was one of the standout players under Hodgson for Palace this season. After the Eagles lost their opening seven games of the season, not many would have given them hope for survival. However, when Hodgson was appointed as manager, the club began a revival and Loftus-Cheek was key to their turnaround.
The 22-year-old made 25 appearances for Palace in all competitions, scoring two goals and contributing five assists. He would have likely played more games had he not had to miss large portions of the season due to injury.
He earned his first call-up for the England national team late last year and excelled with a man-of-the-match-winning performance during the Three Lions’ 0-0 draw with world champions Germany.
Loftus-Cheek was rewarded for his excellent form with a call-up to the 23-man England World Cup squad that is set to travel to Russia. While it is uncertain as to whether Loftus-Cheek will get game time at the tournament, the experience that he will get from being part of the setup will certainly help him in terms of his development going forward.
He is definitely one of the players Chelsea should consider including in their first-team plans next term as they look to rebuild after finishing this season in a frustrating fifth place.
While England have named a solid squad to play in the World Cup, questions have been raised over the selection of Loftus-Cheek, as he is inexperienced at international level and was selected ahead of Jack Wilshere.
Hodgson, however, believes that the youngster has what it takes to succeed at international level.
The veteran manager said: “In the games he has played, he has been almost our best player in every one of them.”
“We have Wilfried Zaha of course, but Ruben has certainly been on his coattails. I have not worked with many players better than Ruben Loftus-Cheek and what he can be. He has the chance to be a really top player at club and international level because he doesn’t have any weaknesses.”