Eric Dier has made a plea for people not to get carried with Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s display for England against Germany last Friday, describing his fellow midfielder as a player of great potential but who “still has a lot to work on”.
Loftus-Cheek was among five debutants who featured for England in the goalless draw with the world champions at Wembley and undeniably made the greatest impact. After a somewhat hesitant and loose start, the 21-year-old grew into proceedings and ended the evening being named man of the match.
That has understandably led to excitement regarding the impact Loftus-Cheek can make on Gareth Southgate’s side in the run-up to next summer’s World Cup, and will not come as a great surprise to those who have watched him develop at Chelsea, whom he joined at the age of eight, or perform for Crystal Palace this season having arrived on loan from the Premier League champions in July. Loftus-Cheek was also part of the England side, under Southgate, who won the Toulon Tournament in 2016.
“Everyone’s known about Ruben’s potential for a long time,” said Dier, who captained England for the first time against Germany. “It’s great that he’s now playing regular football week in, week out at Crystal Palace. That can only allow him to fulfil his potential. Hopefully this [his England debut] is another step in his progression.
“There’s so much more to come from him, but there’s no point getting too carried away at this point. He’s a good boy and he still has a lot to work on, like all of us.”
It will be intriguing to see if Southgate retains Loftus-Cheek in the side to face Brazil at Wembley evening and one facet the player certainly has in his favour compared to his midfield rivals, in the short and long-term, is his build. A little over 6ft 2in tall and 71kg in weight, Loftus-Cheek is an imposing, powerful presence.
“He’s a big boy, he’s been the same since he was 12, I think!” Dier said. “He’s strong, he’s got great physicality, and he moves the ball really well. There’s fantastic potential and hopefully he keeps working hard to fulfil it.”
Among the other players who made their England debuts last week was Jack Cork. The Burnley midfielder had to skip a family holiday to Dubai in order to join the squad but has no regrets and feels that after a long and varied career, which started at Chelsea prior to spells at, among others, Bournemouth, Southampton, Coventry and Swansea, not to mention representing England Under-21s and Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic team, he deserves his opportunity.
“I feel like I’ve done it hard,” the 28-year-old said. “I’ve done my graft and played all the games from League One to Championship – put myself out there. I’ve played enough games to have merited a chance and I’m just really happy the manager has trusted me to get in there.
“To come out at Wembley, against Germany, and get on the pitch in a big game like that is a dream. It’s one of the highest levels you can get and I’m dead chuffed to have got out there.”
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