Ruben Loftus-Cheek has revealed he is modelling the defensive part of his game on Chelsea team-mate Nemanja Matic, as he looks to continue improving and put himself in contention for a regular place in the Stamford Bridge first-team.
The Blues academy graduate has already earned rave reviews from Jose Mourinho, who earlier this week tipped the young midfielder for a bright future in west London, stating that he'd have featured much more regularly in the senior fold had the side not been challenging for the Premier League title.
Loftus-Cheek was named on the bench for Wednesday's 1-0 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park in the absence of Matic, who served the second of his two-game ban following a red card against Burnley last month.
However, with the Serbia international available for selection again in forthcoming fixtures against Southampton and Paris Saint-Germain, the 19-year-old will have to wait patiently for his chance and probably settle for a watching brief between now and the end of the season.
Reflecting on the comparisons made between himself and Matic, Loftus-Cheek is proud to have been likened to a player that has been one of Chelsea's star performers in 2014/15, suggesting he is capable of emulating the former Benfica star in the future.
"We’re both tall players and central midfielders [so] I can see why there would be comparisons there," he explained in an interview with Get West London. "I try to watch Nemanja defensively because I don’t think there’s anyone better than him in that role as a defensive midfielder and that’s what I think I need to improve on.
“I watch him and try to pick up things. I do like attacking more, but I enjoy defending as well. I like both parts of the game."
Regarding his impressive rise to Chelsea first-team contention - which saw him make his senior debut in a 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League - the England U19 international revealed the secret behind his recent success, and confirmed his intention to establish himself in the Portuguese coach's plans moving forward.
“I’ve worked hard to get rewards [this season] and it feels great so I’m going to continue with that and try to push on," Loftus-Cheek added. "My body has got stronger, so I’m able to cope with training with the first-team more and training with them has improved my technique.
"Watching those players train, when I came over to them as an academy player makes me want to kick on.”
Chelsea fans: Do you think Ruben Loftus-Cheek has the potential to become a first-team regular at Stamford Bridge? Are comparisons with Nemanja Matic realistic? Share your thoughts below...