Ruben Loftus-Cheek may need surgery on ankle - Roy Hodgson
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Ruben Loftus-Cheek may need surgery on his injured ankle, but dismissed the notion that the 21-year-old could be sent back to Chelsea before the end of the season.
Loftus-Cheek has not played for Palace since having to be substituted in the 70th minute of a 3-2 loss to Arsenal on Dec. 28, and a lengthy spell on the sidelines will jeopardise his chances of staking a claim for a place in England's squad for next summer's World Cup in Russia.
Hodgson remains hopeful that the midfielder will be available again before the season is over, but admitted that he does not know when that will be.
"The injury is more severe than we originally thought, or perhaps hoped, it would be," Hodgson told a news conference on Thursday.
"I would be very disappointed, surgery or no surgery, if he's not playing before the end of the season. We certainly want him to be and I would presume Chelsea would want him to be.
"The only way he can make himself available for Crystal Palace or England is to be fit and at the moment that isn't the case. I don't want to go into [his World Cup chances] at the moment because we don't know how long it would take after surgery to get him fit again."
Loftus-Cheek joined Palace on a season-long loan last summer after seeing his development at Chelsea stall due to a lack of game time. He has shown signs at Selhurst Park that he could still realise his potential, as well as being named man of the match on his England debut against Germany in November.
But injuries have plagued him ever since his introduction to senior football at Stamford Bridge, though Hodgson has no intention of sending him back to Cobham to recover from his latest setback.
"I wouldn't want to send him back particularly, it's still a long way to the end of the season," he added. "It's obviously a longer injury than we were hoping it would be but there might be some very, very important games again this season when he might be fully fit and ready to play.
"I don't see any particular advantage in sending him back. There are not many Loftus-Cheeks out there at the moment at Premier League clubs who are ready to come out on loan."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.