By Nick Purewal, PA
Thomas Tuchel has told Ruben Loftus-Cheek to unleash his inner “monster” to realise his full potential.
Loftus-Cheek has hit form in recent weeks in a hybrid role mixing right wing-back and central midfield.
The 26-year-old has forced his way into regular action in the second half of the campaign, having finally shaken off the lingering effects of his nasty torn Achilles in 2019.
Incredible feeling yesterday! ⚽️
Wembley awaits once again! 🔵 pic.twitter.com/6rfEph8Ai2
— Ruben Loftus-Cheek (@RLC) April 18, 2022
The one-time England man has even been tipped in some quarters to resurrect his international career ahead of this autumn’s World Cup.
Blues boss Tuchel has been left impressed with Loftus-Cheek’s drive towards top form, but insisted that the Chelsea academy graduate can ill afford to be satisfied with his progress.
“He needs to push himself to the limit; he needs to be physical,” said Tuchel.
“Had a bit of a shy game against Arsenal, like everyone. A calm first-half against Crystal Palace and stepped up in the second-half physically and with ball recoveries and dribbles.
“Suddenly the crowd was there too. This is what we demand from him. He is a calm person. He needs to discover this monster in him and unleash this on a regular basis because it is absolutely necessary.
“It is not enough to be just on the pitch. Maybe if you regard his last years, it may seem good because he is a regular but this is not enough. We cannot let him think it is enough, he needs to constantly push himself.
“We try every day and are quite successful given his development. He needs to understand how much potential he has and unleash this physical capacity on the daily.
“In training he cannot let loose. He needs to be under pressure and play every game like a cup final.”
Tuchel hopes England star Reece James will be able to feature in Thursday’s Premier League trip to Manchester United, having sat out Sunday’s 1-0 win over West Ham due to twinges in his hamstrings.
James has impressed at both right centre-back and right wing-back this term, and Tuchel believes the 22-year-old’s next developmental step will be to add consistency to his availability.
“I’m a bit more into that his very best position is wing-back, where he is perhaps even more decisive, even more useful, but it is more demanding,” said Tuchel.
“The next step is to be a regular player for more than 50, 55, 60 matches, and from there we have to decide that those positions are filled with top quality with him.”