Loftus-Cheek ‘combines Ballack and Wilshere’s strengths’

Date published: Saturday 23rd June 2018 10:44

Former England manager Roy Hodgson believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek has “more strings to his bow” than Michael Ballack and tipped the Chelsea youngster to take his World Cup chance.

Loftus-Cheek is seemingly poised to start England’s penultimate Group G game against Panama on Sunday as a replacement for Dele Alli, who is a fitness concern due to a minor thigh strain.

The 22-year-old has shown glimpses of star quality in his five international appearances to date and Hodgson is confident he will not be daunted on the world stage.

“I do think he’s ready, yes, definitely, 100 per cent,” the Crystal Palace boss told the Daily Mail.

Hodgson saw Loftus-Cheek at close quarters last season, with the highly-rated midfielder spending the entire campaign on loan at Palace.

And though he has been likened to former Chelsea and Germany great Ballack in the past, Hodgson thinks a more accurate comparison would be another England midfielder in Jack Wilshere.

“I’d say he goes by people more than Ballack did. I think he’s got Ballack’s power and his pace and his strength – he’s definitely got that,” Hodgson added.

“But he’s maybe got more strings to his bow than even Ballack had. That’s a bold thing to say, I know, but he’s so good at going past people. He’s got that deceptive turn of pace.

“In that way he’s a bit like Jack Wilshere really. That ability to receive a ball in tight situations and then come out very quickly on the other side and open a game up.

“That’s a skill because passing players can’t do that. Passing players have to pass it and then get it back again. Ruben can twist and turn his way out of tight situations and, as I say, open a game up. And then he’s very powerful going forward.

“I think he can add more goals to his game. I’m sure he will as time goes on.”

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