Chelsea and England woe: Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be ruled out for a year
Three Lions midfielder ruptured his Achilles tendon in US friendly match
This is one misfortune that Chelsea fans can’t pin on Maurizio Sarri - or can they?
The Blues boss has been an object of scorn for much of this season from the Stamford Bridge faithful but his judgement has proved painfully correct in the case of Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
The Chelsea and England midfielder will miss not only the Uefa Europa League final against Arsenal on 29 May but also England’s Nations League semi-final against Holland the following week.
There are even suggestions that the 23-year-old won’t be seen until 2020 after rupturing his Achilles tendon in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over New England Revolution on Wednesday.
The friendly in the United States was a match that Sarri never wanted to play. Last week the Chelsea boss expressed in public his opposition to a game that forced his squad to jet across the Atlantic 24 hours after playing the last league match of a gruelling season.
Like Europa League final opponents Arsenal, Chelsea should have had their feet up getting some well-earned rest before the clash in Baku.
Out for a year?
It was clear from the moment that Loftus-Cheek went down clutching his ankle that something was seriously wrong and Chelsea’s worst fears were realised when he saw a specialist on Thursday.
Surgery is required and reports say that unlike Chelsea team-mate Callum Hudson-Odoi, who suffered a partial tear of his Achilles last month, Loftus-Cheek suffered a full rupture.
The Sun says that he “could be out of action for a year” such is the severity of the injury.
England manager Gareth Southgate learned the news about Loftus-Cheek on the day he announced his squad for the Nations League semi-final against Holland on 6 June.
His regret was evident when he spoke to the press. “I went to bed last night and Ruben’s in the squad and playing brilliantly,” said Southgate.
“He misses now a major European final and a brilliant opportunity for us. In particular he has really come on in the last few months and looked strong and playing with a lot of confidence. I am really disappointed for him.”
But Southgate’s dismay will be nothing compared to that of Sarri. Despite the worthy cause behind the US friendly - raising more than £3m for organisations which combat hate crimes - the timing made little sense for a squad that still had to play its most important match of the season.
The Sun says that Sarri reacted furiously to the sight of Loftus-Cheek collapsing to the turf.
But Chelsea fans blame the Italian for Loftus-Cheek’s injury and the Daily Express reports that the supporters want to see the Italian sacked.
Three Lions name squad
While Loftus-Cheek misses out on the Nations League finals England captain Harry Kane does make Southgate’s initial 27-man squad.
The Tottenham striker is currently recovering from an ankle injury and will have to prove his fitness to Southgate and the Three Lions medical staff if he is to feature in Portugal next month.
- Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton)
- Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
- Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham ), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Harry Winks (Tottenham)
- Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)