Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has played just 33 minutes of Premier League football this season.
Peter Crouch believes Loftus-Cheek would have been a regular starter for Chelsea if the Blues had spent £35 million on him. Crouch believes the 22-year-old is being easily overlooked because he came through the ranks at Chelsea.
Crouch expects Loftus-Cheek to be in the squad that will face Burnley on Sunday following his hat-trick in Chelsea’s 3-1 Europa League victory over BATE Borisov on Thursday.
“Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s name has appeared many times on this page. I make no secret about how big a fan I am and I was delighted to see him score three for Chelsea against BATE Borisov on Thursday,” Crouch wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“But I will be looking at Maurizio Sarri’s teamsheet at Burnley on Sunday with interest. Will Loftus-Cheek actually be in the squad? It would be demoralising for him, I’m sure, to miss out on the 18 at Turf Moor having bagged a hat-trick in Europe three days earlier. How can that work?
“I watched Loftus-Cheek regularly last season and the game that sticks in my mind was when Crystal Palace came to the Bet365 Stadium in May and beat Stoke 2-1. I went home convinced that he would become a regular starter at Stamford Bridge.
“It hasn’t happened so far — he has only played 33 minutes in the Premier League this season — and I sometimes feel this is the problem for a young player who has come through the ranks. They are easily overlooked. If Chelsea had spent £35million on him in the summer, I’m certain he would have been on the pitch more.
“It shows how strong Chelsea are that they can leave someone with his ability on the fringes — and why they will be a threat to Manchester City and Liverpool in the coming months.
“They appear to be a happy squad once again. Towards the end of Antonio Conte’s reign it looked like it had become a bit of a drag. Chelsea were doing regular double sessions and the bulk of training revolved around working on team shape.
“You can see now, though, that they are playing for their manager again. They are title contenders once more. The issue at Chelsea has never been anything to do with the talent of their players, it has been about commitment. Right now, they look focused on their goal.”
Should Loftus-Cheek start against Burnley on Sunday?