Roy Hodgson claims Ruben Loftus-Cheek is better than Michael Ballack

Roy Hodgson hails Ruben Loftus-Cheek and claims England midfielder is better than Michael Ballack

More facets to his game than Michael Ballack; as gifted in tight spaces as Jack Wilshere when he was being heralded as the one English midfielder who could play for .

Roy Hodgson thinks Ruben Loftus-Cheek is that good, and having spent the last nine months working with him at Crystal Palace he is confident he will cope with the demands of starting for England against Panama on Sunday.

‘I do think he‘s ready, yes, definitely, 100 per cent,‘ Hodgson told Sportsmail on Friday. 

‘We missed him enormously in the three months he was injured with his ankle problem.

‘I think he is absolutely ready and I think he showed that in his cameo against Tunisia the other night.‘

Hodgson also, of course, speaks as a former England manager and someone with extensive knowledge of international football.

What he particularly likes about him is his versatility and he can see why Glenn Hoddle once likened the 22-year-old to Ballack.

‘I think Ruben‘s internal midfield play is something that makes him very versatile,‘ he said. 

‘I don‘t know what his best position is. It really depends how teams want to play.

‘He could play in a central role in a four, but luckily for me he can also play as a wide player in a four. 

‘But if you play with a defensive midfield player alongside him he could certainly do that, I‘m sure. 

‘I‘d say he goes by people more than Ballack did. But I think he‘s got Ballack‘s power and his pace and his strength — he‘s definitely got that.

‘But he‘s maybe got more strings to his bow than even Ballack had. That‘s a bold thing to say, I know, but he‘s so good at going past people. He‘s got that deceptive turn of pace.

‘In that way he‘s a bit like Jack Wilshere really. That ability to receive a ball in tight situations and then come out very quickly on the other side and open a game up.

‘That‘s a skill because passing players can‘t do that. Passing players have to pass it and then get it back again. 

‘Ruben can twist and turn his way out of tight situations and, as I say, open a game up. And then he‘s very powerful going forward.

‘I think he can add more goals to his game. I‘m sure he will as time goes on.‘

Gareth Southgate seems to share Hodgson‘s view.

‘Everyone can see his size but he has lovely soft feet,‘ Southgate told ITV on Friday. 

‘He receives the ball really well when surrounded in tight areas. He is strong enough to hold people off. 

‘He has great acceleration driving with the ball at opposing players.‘ Hodgson said he wants to learn too.

‘He‘s excellent, very receptive,‘ he said. ‘He responds very well to the kind of coaching we do and the discipline I‘ve always had in my teams. 

‘He‘s a pleasure to coach, he really is.‘ So much so he would very much like to see Loftus-Cheek at Palace next season.

‘It‘s up in the air,‘ he said. ‘At the end of the day he belongs to Chelsea.

‘If they decide to loan him out again we will be first in line with the begging bowl.

‘But right now there is no intimation that they are thinking of doing that. We‘ve made it clear to them and to Ruben that we would love to work with him again.

‘It will be a long shot I fear because I think he‘s so good, and I think he may show that in this World Cup. He will go back to Chelsea and they will be very happy with what they have got.‘

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