English Premiership

Hiddink wants Loftus-Cheek to make his mark

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea website)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea website)

London - Guus Hiddink has challenged Ruben Loftus-Cheek to put in the hard work required to fulfil his potential after the teenager scored his first Chelsea goal in their 2-0 FA Cup win over Scunthorpe.

Loftus-Cheek gave a glimpse of his talent when he came off the bench to sweep home Cesar Azpilicueta's pass with a composed finish in the 68th minute at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The 19-year-old finished off third tier Scunthorpe after Diego Costa had given Chelsea an early lead in the third round tie, but Hiddink claims the gifted midfielder still has a lot of work to do before he is the finished article.

London-born Loftus-Cheek has been regarded as the jewel in Chelsea's academy crown for some while, but previous boss Jose Mourinho was critical of his attitude and rarely used him.

After pumping millions into overhauling the youth system of a club that hasn't produced a star of their own since John Terry, Blues owner Roman Abramovich is desperate for more homegrown players to emerge.

Abramovich celebrated in unusually exuberant fashion when Loftus-Cheek scored, but Hiddink made a point of highlighting both the youngster's potential and areas where improvement is needed.

"Ruben came in and he had a beautiful goal, not just in the execution but the way he prepared himself, and that was good to see," Hiddink said.

"It's important he also has a hard-working role. If you play number 10 it's a role where you can maybe get away without so much hard work, but that's not what we want.

"I start knowing these youngsters now. I can see the possibilities they have and what they have to work on also."

Asked if he felt pressured by Abramovich to introduce more youngsters into the first-team, Hiddink insisted he is free to pick who he likes, but the Dutchman did concede Chelsea were right to expect more from such a heavy investment.

"It is normal when you have the academy with a lot of investment you must develop players in the Premier League," he said.

"If you see three or four of these players coming into the team that is what you want.

"It is not said (by Abramovich) but that is the consequence of the academy; you have to use them, under the conditions that they learn.

"Our position in the league gives a few options for putting young players in the team."