Maurizio Sarri believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek will benefit from staying at Cobham over the international break and continuing to improve his physical condition after injury.
It was when he was on England duty last month that the young midfielder sustained a foot problem that ruled him out of match action until Thursday night’s win over Vidi, when he played over an hour and made his mark in central midfield.
Sarri had a chat with Loftus-Cheek when he left the field of play after being substituted, and the boss revealed what their conversation had been.
‘I wanted to know the feeling of the player on the pitch because he was injured until five or six days ago,’ Sarri said. ‘I asked how he felt on the pitch.
‘He said he felt very good. Of course he has to improve his physical condition at this moment, but he said it he was very well.
‘In the last three or four weeks he hasn’t been training a lot, so it’s better for him to stay at Cobham to work and have a lot of training [during the international break].’
Analysing Loftus-Cheek’s performance on Thursday, Sarri noted room for improvement as well as reasons to be cheerful.
‘I have seen that he is a great player from the technical and physical point of view. He has to improve from a tactical point of view.
‘We conceded three or four counter-attacks to the opponent, and we have to do better, especially in the case of the midfield.’
Looking forward to our next game, at Southampton tomorrow afternoon, Sarri acknowledged the difficulties posed by a busy schedule but stressed he has every faith in his players to do the job required. The Premier League fixture will be our seventh outing in 23 days.
‘We need a great mentality because there is the risk of arriving at one match without mental power, but I am very happy with my squad,’ Sarri said.
‘It’s very important in this period of the season to have good results. It’s not easy. I will have to change a lot of players, and it’s not easy to prepare for a match tomorrow because a lot of players will be very tired, but we need a very good mentality.’