Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes he still has the quality to play for England and dreams of featuring at the 2022 World Cup.
Loftus-Cheek earned his maiden call-up to Gareth Southgate’s squad when on loan at Crystal Palace in November 2017, producing a man-of-the-match performance on his senior debut in a 0-0 draw with Germany.
The 26-year-old was then a part of Southgate’s 23-man party for the 2018 World Cup and appeared as a second-half substitute in the opening win over Tunisia.
However, he did not feature for the rest of the tournament, in which England were beaten semi-finalists by Croatia, and injuries forced him to withdraw from each national squad during the 2018-19 campaign.
A ruptured Achilles suffered in May 2019 kept him on the sidelines for over a year, but Loftus-Cheek now features regularly at Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel after a season on loan at Fulham in 2020-21.
Loftus-Cheek has played his most Premier League minutes for Chelsea this term (1,309) and started his most games (13), and he insists he still has the ability to perform for England, who head to Qatar in November.
“It’s always a dream for me to play for England at a World Cup, so it was an incredible experience to be part of the squad in 2018 off the back of my first full Premier League season at Crystal Palace,” he told Sky Sports.
“I was feeling good but I’ve not been in the fold now for a while. I still want to play for England and I still believe my qualities will allow me to.
“I’ll keep pushing but the focus right now is on getting a top-four finish and winning the FA Cup with Chelsea.”
Loftus-Cheek’s attention will turn to an FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday, after Chelsea visit strugglers Leeds United in the league on Wednesday.
The midfielder, who made his 50th league start for Chelsea last week, also believes his long-awaited chance to feature regularly offers those in the Blues’ academy hope and a clear pathway to the first team.
“Chelsea have always brought through talent and made talent coming through the ranks,” he added.
“For me, maybe I didn’t really have anyone to look up to. Other than John Terry, there weren’t players coming through from the academy to the first team regularly.
“I didn’t have the idol to look up to and see where I could go but now you see the players who have reached the first team and hopefully the boys can see there is a pathway and see it can be done in different ways.
“You might not just go straight through, you might have to go on loan, but the pathway is there to end up in the Chelsea first team.
“If you’re coming through from the Under 18s or Under 23s, just training with the first team can help so much.
“You can soak in so much information, but it does reach a point where you’ve played with the first team for a bit and you feel you can handle that level then for sure there’s no substitute for playing regularly – whether that’s in the Championship or a different country.
“You just need to get that stimulus of playing every week, and that’s the foundation of your footballing knowledge. It helps you to better understand your body.
“I didn’t necessarily have that consistency growing up so it was very difficult for me to have that base of fitness and confidence in myself but everyone has a different journey.
“Hopefully we can inspire those boys in the Under-23s and below that it can be done.”
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