Ruben Loftus-Cheek targets World Cup place after stirring England debut

Ben Rumsby
Ruben Loftus-Cheek looked very comfortable at international level - CameraSport

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is targeting a place in England’s World Cup squad following his man-of-the-match debut against Germany.

Manager Gareth Southgate declared Loftus-Cheek was “capable of anything” after the 21-year-old took full advantage of a midfield injury crisis to stake his claim for a place on the plane to Russia.

The player himself, currently on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea, said: “To go to the World Cup, it’s still a long season and I look to improve, so I think there’s a chance.

“I have to keep getting better, and hopefully there’s a chance to get on the plane.”

Southgate, who managed Loftus-Cheek while in charge of England Under-21s, added: “He’s a player I've watched do that from Under-16 level and, despite his size and his appearance and the way he plays, he's not a hugely confident at times.

England manager Gareth Southgate was very impressed with Loftus-Cheek

“Tonight, it took him 10 minutes to have a look around him and say he could do this. He's got so many good attributes, top attributes, and that's why he's in the team.

“The wider public might not be as aware of him – you'd have to follow him closely – but we believe in him and the others we played.

“It seemed a bit messy with loads of pull outs, but it's been really tight. The performance was an encouraging one.”

Despite being forced to give five players their debuts, England put on much more of a show on Friday night than in their final two World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania.

“It was a proper game tonight, playing against top players,” Southgate said, hailing the contest as “end to end” and a “better spectacle for the crowd”.

England could easily have won the game

“There's loads we can get better at, and the more we play that system the better we'll get, but it was better for the fans. They'll have been encouraged to see some new players they haven't seen before. There was a freshness and energy about it.”

Of world champions Germany, he added: “Maybe they had another level to go to, but everyone knows what we were missing as well.”

Southgate said Phil Jones seemed “fine” despite the Manchester United defender limping off in the first half.

Declaring Jones, who played with strapping on his left thigh, had been carrying an injury for a while, he added: “We’ll see whether Phil stays with us.”

He also confirmed that Angus Gunn, son of fellow goalkeeper Bryan, would be called into the squad for Tuesday’s match with Brazil after the luckless Jack Butland pulled out on the eve of Friday's game with a broken finger.

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