Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek has offered an insight into the struggles he’s faced while recovering from an injury he picked up at the end of last season.
The England international sustained an achilles injury during a friendly against New England Revolution in the final stages of the 2018-19 campaign, which forced him to miss Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Arsenal in the Europa League final.
The 23-year-old star has been in rehabilitation ever since, with Frank Lampard forced to make do without an influential figure at the start of his Stamford Bridge reign.
Loftus-Cheek played 40 games for the Blues across all competitions last season, making a significant breakthrough after three years on the fringes of the action, but his progress was stalled by the unfortunate fitness setback.
The midfielder claimed he’s had to “learn to walk again” during a recent interview, as he opened up on his injury hell over the last five months.
“As soon as I came out of my cast, I could barely lift my heel off the ground in a sitting position.
“When it happened I turned and pushed off and I heard a clap, it was really loud and I thought someone had smashed me from behind.
“The referee gave a free-kick, he blew the whistle so he must have been close to me, but watching the tape back nobody was near me.
“To lift my leg up took maximum effort. With a big injury, it’s really hard, you don’t see a difference every day, you don’t wake up and think it’s a lot better every morning, it’s over a period of time.
“It’s more exciting the closer I get to making my comeback, the more I keep pushing. I will be there soon.”
Chelsea have risen to fifth in the Premier League in Loftus-Cheek’s absence, with Lampard putting his faith in academy stars Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fiyako Tomori while the club continues to serve a transfer ban.
Loftus-Cheek contributed a career-best 10 goals to Chelsea’s cause last term and his return would be a huge boost for a team which looks well placed to compete for a spot in the top four over the next eight months.
The English playmaker still has a little way to go before he is fit enough to get back on the pitch, but he is determined to “come back stronger” after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.
“The big side of injuries is the mental side of it, so I had to stay positive and keep the right mindset. Even a tweet or a message from a fan makes a big difference to me,” Loftus-Cheek added.
“When you have a good day you get excited, getting that much closer to getting back on the pitch again playing football, getting back in the gym and pushing it, so we will see how it goes.
“I’ve actually had a few setbacks that have put me behind which has been quite frustrating to be honest.
“Before I got injured I was playing my best football. I’ve missed feeling tired from running, from hard work, that feeling of being in a game again.
“I’ve only just got pain free but for sure I’m going to come back stronger, sharper and do whatever I can to be in better shape.”