CHELSEA star Ruben Loftus-Cheek has a fight on his hands to keep his England spot – with Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli.
The 21-year-old Crystal Palace loanee earned man of the match on his international debut against Germany last night, playing in an advanced midfield role behind Tammy Abraham and Jamie Vardy.
And boss Gareth Southgate, who handed first caps to four other players in the friendly, insists that Loftus-Cheek’s mature performance came as no surprise to him.
“He’s a player I’ve watched do that from under-16 level,” he said.
“Despite his size and his appearance and the way he plays, he’s not hugely confident at times.
“And I think tonight it took him 10 minutes to have a look around and think ‘okay I can do this’.
“He’s got so many good attributes, top attributes and that’s why we put him into the team.
“I don’t think the wider public maybe would be as aware of him, they’d have had to follow him very closely.
“But we believe in him and we believe in the others that have played and I’m not surprised with what they’ve done because they’ve shown that previously with the under ages.
“They’ve shown that this week in training, there’s been an energy about the group.”
Loftus-Cheek continued his impressive Palace form, where he’s established himself as a firm fans’ favourite, despite only playing seven league games so far.
Southgate fielded an experimental side for the goalless draw, with many of his star players dropping out through injury, and he admits there will be a lot of competition for places when everyone is available.
He added: “I think a slightly different system opens up different possibilities.
“The position that ruben played today, you could play Dele there, you could play (Adam) Lallana there.
“So that different sort of profile of midfield player, with a deeper one behind. I think we need the stability of a three behind that at the moment.”
England return to Wembley on Tuesday as they host Brazil.