Guus Hiddink tips Ruben Loftus-Cheek to claim regular Chelsea spot

Published: Sunday 10th January 2016 by The News Editor

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Guus Hiddink believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek can finally fight for regular first team action after firing Chelsea into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Chelsea boss Hiddink has tipped 19-year-old Loftus-Cheek to feature more prominently after opening his Blues account to tie up the 2-0 third round win over Scunthorpe.

Highly-rated England Under-21 star Loftus-Cheek had struggled to impose himself under ex-boss Jose Mourinho, but Hiddink accepts owner Roman Abramovich will expect a return on the club’s significant academy investment.

“It’s not said by the club but it’s automatically a consequence, that you start using the youngsters under condition that they must learn,” said Hiddink.

“We’ll see in the upcoming time we go into now in the Premier League, and while fourth place is still possible it also gives an option for younger players that they can come in more easily.

“It’s normal if you have the academy with a lot of investment they must keep up to the level of what’s demanded in the Premier League.

“If you see two or three players coming in and then playing I think that’s one of the objectives of the club as well.”

Diego Costa’s fourth goal in three games helped Chelsea take early charge, only for the hosts to let the tie descend into a scrap.

Loftus-Cheek swept home the winner after replacing Oscar at half-time, to leave Hiddink impressed.

Former Holland manager Hiddink believes Loftus-Cheek has the ability to feature across any midfield role – but admitted he will challenge the teenager to fill roles based around hard graft.

“Ruben came in and he had a beautiful goal, not just in the execution but the way he prepared himself, and that was good to see,” said Hiddink.

“He can play on either side, but it depends how you play.

“He can also play when you play two controlling midfield players and one high on the midfield, he can play up there.

“But it’s important he also has a hard-working role.

“And if you play number 10 it’s a role where you can maybe get away without so much hard work, but that’s not what we want.”

Hiddink admitted midfielder Eden Hazard could miss both Chelsea’s midweek clash with West Brom and next Saturday’s Everton showdown, as the Premier League rolls back into action.

“I don’t want him to fall again with muscle problems,” said Hiddink.

“I want to be careful with him that he doesn’t start too early.”

Hiddink also revealed midfielder Nemanja Matic missed the Scunthorpe clash after suffering an obscure training injury.

Matic was struck in the back of the head by a ball, and has remained dazed ever since – so Chelsea refused to risk him.

“Yesterday he was a little dizzy, and this morning he was a bit dizzy again,” said Hiddink.

Scunthorpe boss Mark Robins was frustrated his side were denied a penalty when Ramires appeared to foul Kevin van Neen.

The League One club’s manager hailed his side’s resolve in accepting Chelsea ultimately merited victory.

“Having seen it live it looked like it could have been, but watching it back again, it was nailed-on,” said Robins of Scunthorpe’s rejected penalty appeal.

“So we’re very disappointed with that, because you need the rub of the green and we didn’t get it.

“We huffed and puffed and caused them one or two scares but ultimately Loftus-Cheek’s got on the end of the cutback, got a decent contact on it and it’s two-nil.

“But I’m proud of the lads.

“Most importantly now the game’s over, dealing with the interest for us has been fantastic.

“The FA Cup always gives clubs spotlight and that’s been handled this week really well.”

Published: Sunday 10th January 2016 by The News Editor

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