4 May 2019

Sarri: RLC May Have Back Injury Forever  (Sky Sports)

 Ruben Loftus-CheekMaurizio Sarri says Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek may have to deal with his long-term back injury for the rest of his career.

The 23-year-old midfielder revealed earlier this season he has a "big curve" in his lower back and that he has taken up yoga in an attempt to ease the problem, which has affected him since he was 17.

He has featured in Chelsea's last 13 Premier League matches but, while he does not believe Loftus-Cheek will need surgery, Sarri said: "We have to control him.

"He needs a particular way of training, for sure. I think [he will suffer the problems] for a long period, probably forever.

"But we can avoid an operation. In the last month he has been able to train every day so, for us, it's really very important.

"Now he is fit and I am really very happy with him."

Although Loftus-Cheek has been able to feature consistently for Chelsea in recent months, Sarri believes it would be better for his long-term fitness if he missed England's Nations League campaign next month.

"I will be happy for him [if he is selected] but I think it is better for him to try to recover completely," he said.

However, Loftus-Cheek is more positive regarding his fitness, and says he has felt no ill effects from his back injury for some time.

He explained: "It's really good, I've been working hard; I haven't felt my back in a while, so those are really good signs and I hope to build on that.

"I can only get stronger, fitter and faster. So for me I just keep my head down, keep working hard, keep a positive attitude. Hopefully the injury's calmed down and I can play regularly."

Loftus-Cheek impressed in Chelsea's 1-1 draw away to Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday, starting the game and claiming the assist for Pedro's goal.

Ahead of the Blues' next challenge, a home game against Watford as they chase a top-four place in the Premier League, he said: "That was my first competitive semi-final at a high level and I really enjoyed playing in the game, in a fantastic stadium with a fantastic atmosphere.

"The business end where the games really matter, that's what football's about and I really love being a part of that.

"It's difficult if you play in the Europa League because you've got to switch your mentality to the Premier League really fast. So now we've got to switch our attention really quickly for another big game."

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