Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that 18-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek will feature in Wednesday night’s Champions League clash against Sporting Lisbon at Stamford Bridge.
Loftus-Cheek, who was captain of the team that won the 2014 FA Youth Cup, spoke to the media alongside his manager on Tuesday afternoon.
During the press conference, Mourinho revealed that Loftus-Cheek will play against the Portuguese giants - but stopped short of saying whether or not the teenager is poised to start the match.
Loftus-Cheek set for permanent first-team place
“I am so happy to give the kids a chance,” Mourinho told reporters. “He is an English player, 18, completely made in Chelsea. If he succeeds it's good."
Mourinho added that Loftus-Cheek is likely to be awarded a place in Chelsea’s first-team squad on a permanent basis from next month, while he confirmed his desire to continue promoting young English players from the club’s youth academy into the senior side.
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Loftus-Cheek: It won't be easy
Loftus-Cheek accepts that it will be difficult for him to cement a place in Chelsea’s star-studded squad, but the confident youngster is eager to take his opportunity to shine tomorrow night with both hands.
“I’ve been at the club since I was eight so to be involved and training with the first team means a lot to me,” he commented. “John Terry is a great role model for all of the players at the Academy and we look up to the likes of him and Drogba.
“We've got some good talent coming through, it won't be easy to make the breakthrough but we have to be positive.
“All the young players are excited to be getting opportunities and we're confident in our ability to do well.”
Stars to sit out but Costa starts
Mourinho also confirmed that Terry, Willian and Eden Hazard will play no part in the match against Sporting. The star trio have been handed some time off, ahead of the hectic festive period, and Mourinho says he wants to give all of his first-team stars a break over the coming weeks.
Diego Costa, however, will start upfront for the Blues at the Bridge tomorrow night.
Mourinho expects response
Mourinho also added that he is not worried about any negative reaction from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United - and expects a much-improved performance from his players.
“From the mental point of view the defeat at Newcastle doesn't have any effect on us. We are fine, we don't need a reaction,” he continued. “I repeat we couldn't be in a better situation. We have nothing to change or be worried about.”