Athletes must have supreme confidence in their abilities to succeed at the highest level.

But sometimes, it seems obvious that this confidence is blinding the player to the reality of the situation. And Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s current predicament is a fantastic example of this.

He has started more games for England in the past 18 months than he has for Chelsea.

Belgium v England: 3rd Place Playoff - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

He joined the club aged eight and made his debut when he was 18.

Excitement has followed Loftus-Cheek as he progressed through the Chelsea academy, with many fans earmarking him as a future starter.

But a lack of opportunities at Stamford Bridge forced him to go on loan to Crystal Palace last season, where he established himself and earned a call-up to the national team.

And after impressing under Gareth Southgate, fans were calling for new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri to start Loftus-Cheek.

Tunisia v England: Group G - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

However, the signing of Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley’s resurgence have found Loftus-Cheek warming the bench.

In fact, he has played less than 60 minutes this season, all from the bench.

Despite this lack of game time, Southgate stuck by Loftus-Cheek and called him up for the matches against Spain and Switzerland.

He started against Switzerland and, although he did not play particularly badly, Loftus-Cheek was quiet and failed to put his stamp on the game.

Huddersfield Town v Chelsea FC - Premier League
(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

So what now for the 22-year-old?

He looks to be a perennial back-up, but any move away during the summer was vetoed by Chelsea.

He has expressed his desire to be patient and work for his spot in the team, but that attitude may change very shortly.

Ability is obviously coming out of Loftus-Cheek’s ears and, at his age, regular football should be a necessity.

He was linked with a move back to Palace in the summer, as well as to Germany and Spain. Therefore, do not be surprised if, by the time the January window opens, Loftus-Cheek is clamouring to leave Chelsea.

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