With a first-team debut under his belt, Ruben Loftus-Cheek will look back on our end of season trip to America with great fondness.
The 17-year-old, who was a regular in our run to the FA Youth Cup final, started both games against Manchester City, and never looked out of place before limping off injured 40 minutes into the second game in New York on Saturday. Slightly frustrated at having to depart the action, he explained the problem before discussing his impact.
‘It’s a groin problem where the pain was too much to keep going,’ he said. ‘It’s frustrating because when you’re playing well you just want to keep going and that’s what I have to deal with at the moment. I can’t get too upset about it.
‘I’ve loved being around the squad and the players have all been good to me, the young ones, and they helped us settle in really well. I’ve been really happy to be around the players and the first team, and it’s made the experience twice as good. It has helped having Jamal and Nathan Ake around too, who are good friends but also used to the environment.’
The midfielder was able to show a good range of passing and a burst of speed that had City’s experienced stars troubled on Saturday. Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany both clattered Loftus-Cheek prior to his injury, but he remained unruffled.
‘I was confident and you have to have that when you’re playing in the first team, especially against a good side like Manchester City with top players,’ he reasoned. ‘I tried to be confident and play like I do with the reserves and youth team.
‘When you’re lining up ni the tunnel you’re looking over your shoulder and thinking, “I’m lining up with David Silva and Yaya Toure”, you don’t do that every day. In the first match I was kind of wondering whether it was real, but it quickly goes and you are focused, you just block everything out.’
The target for Loftus-Cheek now is to be on the plane when the squad travels to Asia for the beginning of our pre-season preparations in July.
‘It’s the aim to be involved in the summer now, but I won’t be too disappointed if I’m not, I don’t want to rush myself or get upset if I’m not in the squad,’ he said. ‘I’ll just try and do my best when we come back to impress the coaches, and I will see how it goes. Overall though, it’s been a brilliant experience.’