Frank Lampard admits it will be next season before Ruben Loftus-Cheek is fully ‘firing’ for Chelsea following the midfielder’s lengthy absence through injury.
Loftus-Cheek made just his second league start of the season during Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Norwich on Tuesday night, the England international having been eased back into the side following a serious Achilles injury suffered towards the end of last season.
The 24-year-old is yet to recapture his best form but Lampard is confident the midfielder will be raring to go ahead of next season, admitting he is hopeful Loftus-Cheek will be like a new signing to his side next term.
“I hope so. It’s difficult for Ruben right now, because of how long he’s had out, because of the stop-start of lockdown and the restart,” Lampard told his post match press conference.
‘But he’s worked really hard to get where he is right now. In terms of his body and his fitness, we have to give him a little bit of credit and time.
‘These games now, he started against Norwich, he’s made little impacts along the way. It may look like that for him in these next few games.
‘But what I want is a Ruben firing straight out the blocks for pre-season and next season.’
Lampard says he is excited by the prospect of unleashing a fully fit Loftus-Cheek next season, admitting the star brings ‘different’ qualities to his midfield with his unique blend of strength and skill.
“I know the talent he has, I know what he can bring us,” Lampard continued.
“It’s very individual. It’s different from what the rest of the squad bring for us, his physicality and touch on the ball. Those minutes will do him really good.”
Loftus-Cheek will hope to be involved once more when return to FA Cup action this weekend, the west London side meeting Manchester United in the semi-finals on Sunday evening.