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Chelsea’s Loftus-Cheek in line to start Europa League tie


London (AFP) – Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek could feature in the starting line-up for the first time this season in Thursday’s Europa League match against Hungarian champions Vidi, Maurizio Sarri has said.

The 22-year-old England player has recovered from a shin problem and is in line for a call-up while Spain winger Pedro has recovered from a shoulder problem.

“I have to speak to Pedro. He’s doing better, like Loftus-Cheek. And so I think tomorrow every player is available,” said Sarri. “I have to change five, six, seven players — I don’t know at the moment (how many).”

“Maybe tomorrow it’s time to see Loftus-Cheek, I think,” the Italian manager added. “He was unlucky in the last three weeks, after the national team (break). He had a problem. In the last five, six days, he has been better, so I think he is able to play tomorrow.”

Last season Loftus-Cheek enjoyed an impressive loan spell at Crystal Palace and was rewarded with a place in England’s World Cup squad. But the young midfielder has remained on the fringes of first-team action at Chelsea.

He has made just two substitute appearances this season for Chelsea but he retained his place in the England squad and played an hour in the recent friendly against Switzerland.

Despite his recent lack of game time for Chelsea, he will hope to be involved in the England squad for upcoming matches against World Cup runners-up Croatia and Spain.

Chelsea opened their Europa League campaign with a 1-0 win at PAOK in Greece and new manager Sarri is targeting victory in the competition, which would give entry to the Champions League.

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