The timing of Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s Achilles injury is considered to be “grossly unfair”, but Chelsea legend Pat Nevin admits the midfielder could return in shape that makes “the Hulk frightened of him”.
The England international midfielder is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery .
He picked up an unfortunate knock during a post-season friendly clash with MLS side the New England Revolution and must now sit out the Europa League final with his club and Nations League finals with his country.
Nevin feels for the 23-year-old and hopes a man who already boasts plenty of power does not work too hard during a period of rehabilitation.
The former Blues winger told the club’s official website : “The serious injury to Ruben Loftus-Cheek was an unfortunate and grossly unfair price to pay for such a good deed by the club.
“He was just beginning to flower in the way that all of our fans want him to. It showed great character to battle for so long this season to finally become the first choice between him, Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic in that ’other’ midfield spot that isn’t Jorginho or N’Golo Kante.
“Everything just seemed to have finally slotted into place for Ruben and his game, and then this happened.
“I was already licking my lips at what he was going to do next season with his increasing power, improving game awareness, his burgeoning belief in his own ability, allied to a rest and then an entire pre-season under his belt. It looked like being phenomenal from day one.
“Now, however, there is a long lay-off with a difficult physical and mental slog back to full fitness. He has of course had other injuries before but these long-term ones are not the same, there is a different mind-set needed to get through it.
“I worry that if Ruben with his inbuilt power and physique gets too into the weights thing, by the time he is fit again the Hulk will be frightened of him!”
Nevin added, with Loftus-Cheek being joined in the treatment room by fellow Stamford Bridge academy graduate Callum Hudson-Odoi: “There is one bonus and it is a very bittersweet one. At least he has someone to share part of the journey with, young Callum Hudson-Odoi.
“It is horrible to see our two shining lights from the youth academy struck down, but at least they will be able to talk and share the time on the journey back to fitness. They will be able to lift each other when they get a bit fed up or worried, which is a real help.”
Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi will be restricted to spectator roles when Chelsea face Arsenal in the Europa League final on May 29, and again when England take on the Netherlands in the Nations League semi-finals on June 6.