Frank Lampard has hit back at Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher and believes the Sky Sports pundits’ criticism of Ruben Loftus-Cheek following his performance against Brighton on Monday was wholly unjustified.
The England international was something of a surprise starter against the Seagulls and was deployed in an advanced role as part of new-look Chelsea attack, which also included summer signings Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.
Loftus-Cheek, who has battled his way back from an Achilles injury which ruled him out of action for over a year, struggled to make an impact at the Amex and was substituted at half-time.
The versatile midfielder’s display prompted Neville to suggest that he might be among a group of players Lampard was likely to try and sell before the transfer window closes.
He said: ‘I thought, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he’s been given his chance. ‘I thought he was really disappointing. I don’t think Loftus-Cheek can complain. He’s been given games.
‘I don’t think he’s ever grasped his chance yet. There’s going to come a point when they’re going to cash in and get £25million for him.’
Carragher, meanwhile, added: ‘He’s got to say he wants to play every single week. He’s not grabbed his chance tonight.‘If you get your chance you have to grab it. He’s had his chances now.’
Lampard was a senior Chelsea player when Loftus-Cheek was emerging from the club’s prolific academy and launched a staunch defence of the 24-year-old who has battled his way back from adversity on many occasions already over the course of his injury-ravaged career.
He said: ‘I know Ruben’s story probably second best to how he knows it, but Ruben had a terrible injury, an injury he’s worked very hard to come back from.
‘Over the course of last season he was just about fit to start Under-23 games when lockdown came in, he worked incredibly hard in restart and got a start against Aston Villa.
‘He’s put a lot of hours into it and he’s a hugely talented player a great lad so there will be lots more to come from Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Unfortunately the nature of this game is very reactionary and people will say it as they see it, but knowing Ruben’s story behind the scenes he’s fought back really hard to get back where he is and he’s a very, very talented player.’