Roy Hodgson admits he would be keen to take Ruben Loftus-Cheek back to Crystal Palace if the midfielder becomes available in January.
Loftus-Cheek, 22, has struggled to force his way into Maurizio Sarri’s first team after returning to Chelsea following a successful season-long loan at Palace.
The midfielder’s form last season earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad at the World Cup and Loftus-Cheek featured for just over an hour in Tuesday’s international friendly with Switzerland.
That came after the youngster had managed just 33 minutes of Premier League action during the opening weeks of the season and while Sarri, the Chelsea head coach, has spoken positively about the midfielder’s qualities, the player faces significant competition if he is to establish himself at Stamford Bridge.
Loftus-Cheek insists his focus is solely on Chelsea at the moment but has indicated he would be open to a return to Palace if opportunities at Stamford Bridge remain limited, while Hodgson would welcome the player back.
“If the question is should Ruben Loftus-Cheek be made available in January, would Crystal Palace be interested in loaning him again, then the answer is yes,” said The Palace manager.
But he added: “I can’t answer ‘is that what you are looking at’, because how can I look at it? He is a Chelsea player, and I have got no idea if he is going to be available in January, so what can I look at?”
The lack of game time for Loftus-Cheek and some of his international colleagues is a cause for concern for Gareth Southgate, the England manager. Hodgson, a predecessor of Southgate’s with the national team, recognises the situation but maintains he opted to keep faith with players whether or not they were featuring prominently in the Premier League.
“What we did in the time with England was we believed in the quality of the players,” he said. “We understood that they were at big clubs, and big name players keep them out.
“The simple question to answer then is, is this player, who is actually not playing at the moment, a better player than this one, who is English and is playing at the moment? And that will be a subject always of debate and it will be up to the national team manager to decide which road he goes down.”