CHELSEA midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek says he is intent on staying to fight for his place at the club rather than move elsewhere.
But the 22-year-old accepts that calls for him to leave in order to play regular first team football are not uncalled for.
The midfielder has yet to make a Premier League start for the Blues this term with new boss Maurizio Sarri having a wealth of talent to call upon in his position.
Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic are currently ahead of Loftus-Cheek in the pecking order, while N’Golo Kante and Jorginho have started every league game to date.
The England international has been used sparingly by Sarri this season, but when he has played, he has still been able to make himself known on the pitch.
“I love the club and I love Chelsea, I want to play for Chelsea”
And after having scored a hat-trick in the Europa League against BATE Borisov at the end of last month, Loftus-Cheek was told by numerous pundits to seek an exit for more game-time.
Former Chelsea and England boss Glen Hoddle told BT Sport: “I fear for the lad. If he isn’t going to get the opportunities soon then he has got to move. He’s a talent – with my England hat on I need to see him playing.”
Loftus-Cheek added to his European treble with a strike against Burnley last weekend and is pushing to make an appearance against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
The midfielder made 21 starts in the league last season for the Eagles, forcing his way into the England squad for the World Cup in Russia.
This led to calls for him to be given more game time at Chelsea this season but his minutes are still not what he may be expecting.
Loftus-Cheek however insists he is ready to fight for his place in Sarri’s team rather than move elsewhere.
”I hear it a lot, and I can see why people are saying that, because I’m 22 now and haven’t got too many Premier League starts to my name,” he told Sky Sports.
“I haven’t played too many minutes, whether it be in the Premier League and the Championship, and at 22 it’s not seen as enough by some people. I do hear it.
“I love the club and I love Chelsea, I want to play for Chelsea.
“Last season [moving to Palace on loan]was a decision I made because I hadn’t played any football really, at the age of 21, and last season was great for me at Palace.
“Twenty-four [appearances]I think I had in the Premier League, and then to go on and make my England debut. I made a lot of steps last year.
“Playing football was massive for me and you can see why people want to see me play, and I want to play as well.”
Sarri, meanwhile, has ruled out a mid-season exit for Loftus-Cheek.
He told reporters at his pre-Palace press conference: “Ruben in October played four matches out of five. I think at the moment the situation is not for a loan of course.
“He has improved, but he needs to improve more from the tactical point of view. The rest is good.”
Chelsea will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the campaign against Palace on Sunday.
It remains to be seen how much time, if any, Loftus-Cheek will be given against the club he impressed at last season.