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Ruben Loftus-Cheek eyeing England World Cup squad despite injuries

Ruben Loftus-Cheek said he still hopes to earn a place in the England squad at this summer's World Cup despite an injury-hit season for Crystal Palace.

The 22-year-old, on loan from Chelsea, has struggled with back and ankle injuries and made his first appearance of 2018 for Palace when he replaced Wilfried Zaha as an 89th-minute substitute in Saturday's 2-0 away victory over Huddersfield Town.

A lack of football has seen Loftus-Cheek -- who was voted man of the match on his senior England debut against Germany in November -- left out of Gareth Southgate's latest squad for friendlies against Netherlands and Italy, but he remains optimistic that he can fight his way back into contention.

"The ankle is feeling much better," Loftus-Cheek told Sky Sports. "It was a scary moment for me in December. I'm happy to be back in training. Hopefully, I can use this break to work on my fitness and be back.

"I've really enjoyed myself and the time I've had on the pitch, the opportunity to play for England. It's been a good season apart from the injury."

Asked if he feels he can still work his way back into Southgate's thinking for the World Cup, he said: "If I can get as much game time as possible, who knows what can happen?"

Loftus-Cheek has made 17 Premier League appearances for Palace this season, contributing one goal and two assists, and after a defeat to Chelsea earlier this month, Roy Hodgson insisted that the midfielder could still play a big role in his team's struggle for Premier League survival.

"We know he can be in terms of his quality," Hodgson said. "When he got injured he was a major contender for a place in the England World Cup squad, so the question is now, can he get back and reproduce that form? I see absolutely no reason why he can't."

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.


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