Ruben Loftus-Cheek has the potential to be an “amazing player” for Chelsea, says Blues legend Gianfranco Zola, with the midfielder needing to shake off niggling knocks and show what he can do.
A product of the Stamford Bridge academy system is approaching the 12-month mark since he last took in a competitive appearance.
The England international has seen fitness issues prevent him from figuring for Chelsea since May 12, 2019.
Prior to being laid low in a friendly date with the New England Revolution, Loftus-Cheek had nailed down a regular role in west London.
Gareth Southgate had also found a role for him in the senior England squad, with 10 caps collected, however, a serious Achilles problem has denied Loftus-Cheek the chance to play any part in 2019-20.
Despite his obvious struggles, Chelsea legend Zola – who worked with the highly-rated playmaker during a spell as Maurizio Sarri’s assistant – considers Loftus-Cheek to be among the most exciting prospects in the Premier League.
When naming those he would have on said list, Zola told Sky Sports: "There's so many right now in the Premier League that are exciting to watch.
"The front players for Liverpool, many others. I like [James] Maddison a lot from Leicester, he's a player that has very good potential.
"I also like very much last year Ruben Loftus-Cheek. He's a player that, if he can recover his physical potential, he can be an amazing player. Players like [Eden] Hazard were special last year, he was unbelievable.
"There is one player that is a game-changer and that is [Kevin] De Bruyne for City. He knows how to do everything, he can set people up for an assist, he can score, he can defend, he can build the play. I think he's becoming an amazing player."
Loftus-Cheek had enjoyed a breakthrough season at Chelsea in 2018-19, with 40 appearances taken in across all competitions.
His chance with the Blues came after proving himself during a productive loan spell at Crystal Palace.
Frank Lampard would have been expected to give him game time this term, with the Blues having shown considerable faith in home-grown stars, but it remains to be seen whether minutes will be found whenever Premier League football resumes amid the coronavirus pandemic.