Loftus-Cheek will be given time to get stronger – Southgate

The midfielder was forced off in the first half of England’s friendly with Brazil as he gets used to playing regular first-team football

Gareth Southgate has declared England’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be given time to build up his resilience.

The on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder was substituted after just 35 minutes of Tuesday’s draw with Brazil due to what Southgate described as a ‘periodic’ back issue.

Loftus-Cheek 13/5 to score v Everton

And, despite his injury woes, the England manager is prepared to back Loftus-Cheek as the 21-year-old works on building up the physical side of his game.

“He’s had to go through that as a young player – through the growth spurts that he had… he’s way stronger now than he was a year ago, two years ago,” said Southgate, who gave Loftus-Cheek his senior England debut against Germany last Friday.

“At that time it was very difficult for him to finish 90 minutes. On Friday, he did that comfortably and looked strong at the end.”

The 21-year-old has played 591 minutes for Crystal Palace this season, over four hours more than he managed for Chelsea last term and Southgate acknowledges that is bound to have consequences.

“He’s already played more minutes this year than he played in the whole of last season so inevitably there’s going to be a little bit of a response to that as the season goes on,” said Southgate.

“Today’s a disappointment for him to have to come off because I think he’d already shown some really good touches within the game.

Article continues below

“The 10 days overall have been a massive stride forward for him.”

Southgate was full of praise for England’s youngsters after they held both Germany and Brazil 0-0, singling out Loftus-Cheek and Liverpool youngster Joe Gomez for their contributions.

He added: “You know for him and (Joe) Gomez, in particular, at their age to come into these games and perform as they did on such limited league experience is absolutely outstanding.”