Maurizio Sarri has explained why midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek was left out of Chelsea’s 18-man squad that defeated Southampton 3-0
Goals from Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley and Alvaro Morata gave Chelsea a comfortable win over a struggling Southampton side. Ruben Loftus-Cheek however didn’t even make the squad, despite getting his first starting role for Chelsea since January 2017 in last Thursday's Europa League clash.
Loftus-Cheek has struggled for game time since the arrival of Sarri. He was supposed to start in Chelsea’s Carabao cup match against Liverpool, but a foot injury ruled him out of the game. His resurgent display in the Europa League fixture against MOL Vidi gave him some hope that he may be able to compete for a spot in the starting XI for Chelsea.
That wasn’t to happen at St Mary’s and Sarri revealed that he preferred for Loftus-Cheek to stay on the training ground rather than travel to Southampton.
"No, not at the moment," Sarri remarked when asked whether Loftus-Cheek was still injured, as quoted by football.london. "I preferred for him after 70 minutes in the last match for the first time in the season, I preferred for him to have training."
One man who was given the chance to impress was Ross Barkley. The former Everton star came in and filled Loftus-Cheek’s role at St Mary’s and performed admirably, notching a goal and an assist to help his claim to be a regular starter. He also earned a call-up to the national team for the first time since May 2016, replacing Loftus-Cheek yet again, and will want to make the most of the opportunity.
It seems that between the two, Sarri prefers Barkley over Loftus-Cheek, as he heaped praise on the England international after the match, saying: "I think the best performance of Ross was in the Carabao Cup in Liverpool. Today he has played very well, but I am really happy with him."
Loftus-Cheek will have to wait until after the international break to see if he can get back into the Chelsea’s squad for their crucial home fixture against Manchester United.