Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes his physical condition has never been better

Fit Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek said his physical condition was never better when he revealed he recently spoke to tennis star Andy Murray about overcoming injuries.

Loftus-Cheek has started five of the Blues’ last six games under Graham Potter and retains hope of forcing his way into the England World Cup squad.

The 26-year-old, preparing to face RB Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday night, endured a frustrating career and stop-start at Stamford Bridge amid a string of fitness problems.

But he’s once again threatening to finally realize the potential that saw him earn a spot at the 2018 World Cup, having been relatively unscathed since returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2020.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray has also been haunted by injury issues in his illustrious career and swapped stories with Loftus-Cheek during last month’s Laver Cup.

“It was great to see how he sees himself and his career and the injuries that have hindered him,” said Loftus-Cheek, who also saw Murray in Surbiton in May, at a press conference ahead of the European Blues match in Austria. .

“Obviously he had a big one with a hip that he struggles with a little more. She was a good chat to really compare our careers and injuries were a big part.

Andy Murray met Ruben Loftus-Cheek during last month’s Laver Cup (John Walton / PA)

“But now I feel fine. I feel physically strong and fit and being injury free for the past couple of years has been a big part of that.

“I’ve never had it in my career, so it’s a big positive for me and that’s why I’m in shape right now. I feel the strongest, the fittest and the fastest I’ve ever been ”.

Loftus-Cheek won 10 appearances for England in 2017 and 2018, four of which came as Gareth Southgate’s side reached the World Cup semi-finals in Russia.

He returned from that tournament expecting his career to take off, but now he’s just grateful to play regularly as he attempts to force a seat on the plane for Qatar.

“That would be great, it would mean a lot,” he said of a potential Three Lions recall.

“Going to the 2018 World Cup, you see your trajectory going like this (gesturing upwards) and obviously being at the next World Cup if all goes well. But a lot happened during that time.

“I’m just happy and grateful to be fit and healthy and to play football consistently.

“This is all I can ask for and if I am going to the World Cup with the weight of what I am doing now, it would mean the world, but at the moment it is not at the forefront of my mind.

“We have some important games coming to the club that require our full concentration and it would be selfish for me to think about my personal aspirations rather than those of the club.”

Chelsea will qualify for the Champions League round of 16 with a win over Salzburg, while a draw combined with AC Milan’s defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in the other Group E match would also suffice.

While securing early progression would take the pressure off next week’s home clash with Dinamo amidst a congested list of pre-World Cup matches, manager Potter isn’t looking too far ahead.

“It would be nice to win, absolutely, and there are consequences to winning,” he said.

Graham Potter remains undefeated as Chelsea manager

Graham Potter remains undefeated as Chelsea manager (Adam Davy / PA)

“But our thoughts are just trying to win the game, do the best we can.

“We understand how tough it will be, but we have to take up the challenge and put ourselves in a good position.

“We are not finished, we do not have enough points, we have to move forward, so it will be the test. We can not wait”.

The injured quartet Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly and N’Golo Kante were unavailable and did not travel.

According to Potter, Koulibaly’s problem “is not too serious”.

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