Chelsea selection criticised by ex-player after midfielder misses out

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 8:00am

By James Gray @jamestingray

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s decision not to give Ruben Loftus-Cheek the chance to shine in midweek against PAOK has disappointed plenty of England fans, not least former Blue Gary Chivers.

Loftus-Cheek impressed on loan at Crystal Palace last year and was one of England’s better performers in his three starts during the World Cup.

But the 22-year-old has just 33 minutes of first-team football so far this season and failed to come off the bench as Chelsea opened their Europe League campaign with a 1-0 victory in Greece.

“I thought that would have been a good game for him to go and play,” Chivers told Ian Stone’s Comedy Breakfast.

“I think they rested three of their key players at the moment in David Luiz, [Cesar] Azpilicueta and Eden Hazard.Ruben Loftus-Cheek England

“Obviously, he rested them for a reason but I was disappointed not to see Loftus-Cheek.

“It must be really frustrating for him because he’s done ever so well in the World Cup and he’s come back.

“Players just want to play. That’s what it’s all about, playing.”

One Englishman who has been given the opportunity shine in midfield is Ross Barkley.

He played just twice in the Premier League last year, his first season at Chelsea, but has already doubled that tally domestically this time around.

Barkley also provided the assist for Willian’s winner on Thursday and will likely play an important role against West Ham, no matter where Sarri chooses to name him.

 “I think Barkley has got a manager that has a bit of confidence in him and likes him,” Chivers added.

"Ross has obviously had a good pre-season, come back firing and he’s played well.

“Whether he’s started the game or whether he’s come on, he’s always made an impact on the game.”

But the main point of contention will be who ends up starting up front for Chelsea in a London derby that a week ago might have looked like a cricket score with West Ham yet to win in the league.

However, an impressive Hammers victory away at Everton would suggest that Chelsea will need to be at their best at both ends of the pitch, whether it is Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud starting up front.

“I think [Morata] is short of confidence,” Chivers also said.

"He started off, when he came, he looked really lively and got a lot of goals but at the moment he’s finding it hard. But he’s a good player, a great player.

“The hardest thing is that you’ve got Giroud there as well.

“At the moment, probably he’s a little bit in front of Morata, but when you’ve got Giroud in there, he holds the ball up, he’s good in the air, he’s strong and he tracks back.

“You’ve got that side of the game which with Morata, his game is all about trying to get goals.”

Catch Ian Stone’s Comedy Breakfast every weekday from 6.30am until 10.30am for more great sporting exclusives, and you can listen to the full interview with Gary Chivers and Ian’s co-host Richard Lee via the player below.

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