Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes he and the rest of the Chelsea squad are well placed for the start of the campaign as our pre-season concludes, but knows there is no substitute for the intensity of a Premier League fixture.
The 26-year-old was unable to travel with the rest of Thomas Tuchel’s squad on the summer tour of the USA, but joined up with his team-mates on their return before starring in the second of the friendly wins at Udinese which brought the curtain down on pre-season.
Featuring at wing-back at the Dacia Arena on Saturday morning, Loftus-Cheek scored the first goal before being tripped in the box for the penalty Hakim Ziyech converted to complete the 2-0 victory, with the Englishman looking fit and sharp despite missing that trip to America.
Having remained at Cobham building his fitness alongside our Academy teams, he is confident he is well placed for the start of the season given the high quality of that work, in addition to the Blues’ perfect finish to pre-season with back-to-back wins.
‘I felt good, I felt fit,’ said Ruben of Saturday’s game against Udinese, which was his first for the senior team in pre-season. ‘It was good to join back up with the team this week after missing the pre-season tour, but I feel good
‘Training with the Under-23s and the Under-18s was hard, with the running we had to do. It was like a basketball game at times, so maybe that benefitted me. But I feel good and it’s good for the team to get two wins going into the season.
‘We’re a top team and when we move the ball it’s very difficult for teams, but they made it difficult for us at times. But, like I said, we’re happy with the wins and it’s a good end to pre-season.’
Loftus-Cheek’s own performance in that victory over Udinese dismissed any concerns he might be behind his team-mates in his preparations after missing the trip to the USA, as had that of N’Golo Kante – who also stayed in England to train at Cobham instead of crossing the Atlantic – as he opened the scoring in the previous evening’s game at the Dacia Arena.
Ruben feels their successful pre-season back in England was down to the focus they showed to concentrate on their own work and put their absence from America to one side.
‘It was a bit different and I think it was about enjoying the moment, not having our mind on what the boys are doing in America. It’s just about enjoying it and getting fit and that’s what we did.