Ruben Loftus-Cheek is training with Chelsea’s academy players and is expected to progress up the ranks before joining the first team, Frank Lampard has confirmed.
The Chelsea head coach said that the England midfielder, who has been out since last May with a ruptured achilles, is working hard but is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
While a first-team return is not yet pencilled in, Loftus-Cheek is “not far away” according to Lampard.
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“He is training now with the Under-16s,” Lampard said. “He’ll train with the Under18s, progressing to the Under23s in a pretty short space of time. The sooner that he can be back with us training, the better.
“But with the injury for a long time it is standard that you bring him through the academy. We are working every way. But there is a different look on Ruben’s face, more smiley and happy, which I absolutely understand.”
Asked how tough the rehabilitation has been for Loftus-Cheek, Lampard added: “Tough. The good thing about him is he is not one to walk around with his head down or create a negative atmosphere, but it is just a lonely place.
“That is for everyone. He is integrating more towards us now. Which is great, but with the lad that he is, he could be easily forgotten from the outside that we have missed a hugely influential player for us.
“And hopefully we will get him back, and if we get him back after the break, it might need some competitive games for him because of the nature of the injury, but he might not be far away.”