Has Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek played his way into England’s starting XI?
Harry Kane might have been England’s match-winner in tonight’s World Cup opener against Tunisia, but their game-changer was Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
The Chelsea midfielder came off the bench as an 80th-minute replacement for Kane’s Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Dele Alli.
Loftus-Cheek used his 10 minutes on the pitch to great effect. He provided some pace, power and attacking thrust that had been lacking from England for much of the match.
Much of the Blues youngster’s good work came down the right flank, where he showed good speed and skill to turn the Tunisian defence and get to the byline, which England has previously been struggling to do.
It was no coincidence that England’s late winner came after Loftus-Cheek had added some impetus to their attacking play.
The 22-year-old must now be in contention for a place in England’s next group game against Panama on Sunday. Loftus-Cheek’s performance would have demanded consideration from Gareth Southgate under any circumstances, but is particularly pertinent given that the Three Lions are likely to be asked to unlock another packed defence when they face the Central Americans.
Loftus-Cheek was winning his fifth cap for England and playing in his first competitive international.