Loftus-Cheek struggling with back problem

Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s hopes of impressing Chelsea boss Antonio Conte during the final matches of the Premier League season have been ruined by a back problem.

With the title having already been secured, Conte made a number of changes for Monday’s 4-3 win over Watford at Stamford Bridge.

There were starting places for youngsters Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah, while another academy product, Ola Aina, came on as a substitute.

West London Sport report that Conte has been unable to call upon Loftus-Cheek – and would have included the midfielder had he been fit.

“He is struggling with pain in his back,” Conte confirmed.

“It is a pity because for sure this would have been a good opportunity for him, because I think Ruben is a really good player.”

Several clubs have been linked with Loftus-Cheek, who has been tipped for a possible loan move next season.

West Ham are reported to be interested in the England Under-21 international, as are Stoke City.

And Conte said: “He is an important prospect for me. We have to take the best decision for him for next season – the best solution for him.

“But for the future Ruben has a good prospect to be a Chelsea player.”

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