In the build-up to our final action before the international break, Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks ahead to the visit of Burnley and discusses how talks with the boss have helped his development this term…

Should Ruben Loftus-Cheek feature against Burnley this afternoon in the Premier League, it will be the midfielder’s 10th Chelsea appearance of the season, as many as he’s managed for the club in the previous two campaigns combined.

If that statistic in isolation betrays the true story of the 25-year-old’s meandering journey over the past few years, it is worth remembering the ups and downs he has faced and conquered. A regular fixture in the team under Maurizio Sarri, a ruptured Achilles in Boston put his career on hold for over a year.

Out of the blue, it sent Loftus-Cheek plummeting to a new low, his dream of running out for his boyhood club jeopardised in an instant. His comeback coincided with the resumption following the pandemic pause and he then spent last term on loan at Fulham, making 31 league appearances for a side that were ultimately relegated.

‘After I came back from that injury, I didn’t feel the same,’ he says now. ‘I’m a powerful player who relies on his body and strength but I lost a lot of that so I felt like I needed a season where I could just play as much as possible.

‘I had to put in a lot of extra hours in the gym, especially on my calves because I lost a lot of the muscle mass. A lot of extra work went into it but I always believed I could get back to that point I was at before the injury.’

Few would argue that Loftus-Cheek has now regained that form and fitness of 2018/19, a campaign in which he hit double figures for goals for the one and only time. One of those came away at today’s opponents Burnley in a 4-0 win, a close-range finish to complete the scoring just three days after he had netted a Europa League hat-trick against BATE Borisov.

He has plenty of experience of facing the Clarets and knows what they do well, qualities Thomas Tuchel’s side must be wary of this afternoon if we are to go into the final international break of the year with our lead at the top of the Premier League intact.

‘It’s a tough, physical game where the ball is in the air a lot,’ he claims of taking on Burnley. ‘We’ll have to challenge and win our individual duels. Burnley are very good at what they do and they can hit you at any time with balls in behind.

‘They have these big, strong strikers that are a nuisance so we have to be ready for that but I’m sure everyone in the team knows that if we perform and play to our best then we should win.’

Loftus-Cheek takes pride and pleasure in having been injury-free for over a year now, a record that has allowed him to work closely with Tuchel since pre-season.

Constant coaching alongside direct dialogue between the two have helped our number 12 improve his holistic game as much as his weekly performances, a key factor in his prominent role in recent weeks.

‘We have some talks about my game and he’s a manager who always wants to help you,’ he adds. ‘He’s always trying to give me tips on how to get better, not just game by game but overall in general.

‘He’s a fantastic manager and he knows his stuff so I’m in a good place to listen to him and develop that way. I’m open to anything he says to me but I also think you develop most by playing a lot so I’m hoping to get as many games as possible.’

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