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Does Ruben Loftus-Cheek have a future at Chelsea?

By Adam Shergold for MailOnline
Published: 06:41 EST, 11 November 2017 | Updated: 08:25 EST, 11 Nov..

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By Adam Shergold for MailOnline

Published: 06:41 EST, 11 November 2017 | Updated: 08:25 EST, 11 November 2017

It was another night to encourage the belief that the English kids are all right.

The under-17 squad paraded the World Cup they won so spectacularly out in India a fortnight ago, lapping up the cheers and applause of the Wembley crowd when they trooped out in tracksuits to the centre circle at half-time.

And there was another masterstroke from Gareth Southgate, too, a month on from the well-received induction of Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks into the senior fold.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek enjoyed an impressive debut in England's goalless draw with Germany

Ruben Loftus-Cheek enjoyed an impressive debut in England's goalless draw with Germany

England manager Gareth Southgate was vindicated in his decision to bring Loftus-Cheek inEngland manager Gareth Southgate was vindicated in his decision to bring Loftus-Cheek in

England manager Gareth Southgate was vindicated in his decision to bring Loftus-Cheek in

This time, England's star performer was 21-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek — of Chelsea officially but Crystal Palace currently — who took his first-team debut against world champions Germany effortlessly in his long and languid stride.

There are plenty who'll never be fully sold on Southgate, the Football Association's smartly-blazered company man who will steer clear of controversy and tow the party line.

But a career pathway that included three years as England's under-21 manager is unquestionably starting to bear fruit.

Nobody is better placed than Southgate to understand the strengths and limitations of the emerging generation of English players and, by extension, of how to successfully bring them through to the senior international arena.

So when a succession of injury withdrawals from his squad left Southgate short-staffed in midfield, he knew precisely who would embrace the challenge of taking on Germany and who would shrink under the Wembley lights.

It was an all-action performance by the Chelsea player as England held the world championsIt was an all-action performance by the Chelsea player as England held the world champions

It was an all-action performance by the Chelsea player as England held the world champions

The highlight of Loftus-Cheek's performance was this nutmeg on Marcel HalstenbergThe highlight of Loftus-Cheek's performance was this nutmeg on Marcel Halstenberg

The highlight of Loftus-Cheek's performance was this nutmeg on Marcel Halstenberg

Loftus-Cheek stood out in Friday night's goalless stalemate and his man of the match performance undoubtedly propelled him into Southgate's thinking for next summer's World Cup.

His emergence, hot on the heels of Winks, came at a perfect time for England, whose options in the midfield engine room were beginning to look depressingly stale.

The partnership between Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier at the base of midfield had faded, Ross Barkley had gone the same way as Jack Wilshere, while Dele Alli was becoming over-relied on.

Yet this weekend Southgate will feel a whole lot happier with the situation after Loftus-Cheek's successful senior bow, because the Chelsea kid can play either as a defensive midfielder, a central midfielder, or the cherished No 10 role.

Of course, we shouldn't get too carried away. Such has been the stunted growth of Loftus-Cheek at Chelsea – yet another victim of the bottleneck between academy and first team there – he has only started 12 Premier League games in his career.

Six of those have been during the loan spell at Palace this season he so desperately needed.

Loftus-Cheek tries to get the better of Germany duo Ilkay Gundogan and Antonio RudigerLoftus-Cheek tries to get the better of Germany duo Ilkay Gundogan and Antonio Rudiger

Loftus-Cheek tries to get the better of Germany duo Ilkay Gundogan and Antonio Rudiger

Loftus-Cheek plays the ball past Germany midfielder Emre Can during the Wembley matchLoftus-Cheek plays the ball past Germany midfielder Emre Can during the Wembley match

Loftus-Cheek plays the ball past Germany midfielder Emre Can during the Wembley match

By contrast, Leroy Sane on the German team is the same age and has played in 57 top-level matches for Schalke in the Bundesliga and Manchester City in the Premier League.

Yet Loftus-Cheek grabbed the No 10 shirt on Friday night and all the responsibilities that come with it.

He played with the confidence of a man with 50 caps, touching the ball more than any other attack-minded England player and successfully completing 96 per cent of his passes.

He stroked passes around with the same unhurried assurance he showed in countless youth and reserve matches for Chelsea over the past five years and never looked flustered when under the German press.

The highlight came when he slipped the ball through the legs of Sane and then two long strides later did exactly the same to fellow debutant Marcel Halstenberg.

It drew cheers from the Wembley crowd, a temporary distraction from the game of trying to throw the t-shirts given away for the pre-match remembrance mosaic onto the pitch.

The Crystal Palace loanee was named man of the match following an impressive debutThe Crystal Palace loanee was named man of the match following an impressive debut

The Crystal Palace loanee was named man of the match following an impressive debut

The midfielder collects his bottle of champagne after receiving the man of the match awardThe midfielder collects his bottle of champagne after receiving the man of the match award

The midfielder collects his bottle of champagne after receiving the man of the match award

Loftus-Cheek also released Jamie Vardy with a through ball and he might have scored himself late in the first-half when the ball was fizzed to his feet.

Confidence high, his second-half was even better, with more incisive passing on display.

This No 10 role was the one he fulfilled for Palace at the start of the season, but when Frank de Boer's expression was replaced by Roy Hodgson's pragmatism after a dreadful start, we're seen Loftus-Cheek play wide on the right.

This is in order to accommodate Yohan Cabaye in a 4-4-2 set-up and provide Palace with greater stability.

Loftus-Cheek is, of course, more than capable of playing there as his 6ft 3in frame and long stride enable him to turn on the burners and breeze past defenders.

But the central role is undoubtedly where he feels most at home and Ian Wright, working as a pundit for ITV on Friday night, claimed Loftus-Cheek is superior to Chelsea's £40m midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Loftus-Cheek plays a pass while surrounded by Germany players during Friday night's game Loftus-Cheek plays a pass while surrounded by Germany players during Friday night's game 

Loftus-Cheek plays a pass while surrounded by Germany players during Friday night's game

The midfielder rises highest to try and head a cross towards goal during the second-half The midfielder rises highest to try and head a cross towards goal during the second-half 

The midfielder rises highest to try and head a cross towards goal during the second-half

'I watched Bakayoko the other day up front or playing further forward against Manchester United and he never done anything in that game that made me think that he's a better player than Loftus-Cheek,' Wright said.

'Now I'm not knocking Chelsea because Chelsea can do whatever they want but the fact is that surely you've got to give the guy a chance. I've seen him and he's better than Bakayoko for me.'

The stats from the Premier League this season suggest Loftus-Cheek has been more than a match for Bakayoko, with a superior passing accuracy, more dribbles and more chances created, all from over 200 minutes less on the pitch.

But even if Loftus-Cheek enjoys a stellar season with Palace and is recalled to Chelsea next summer, he will face intense competition for the central midfield slots.

Bakayoko is but one of the options at Antonio Conte's disposal, with N'Golo Kante the first choice in the defensive midfield role. Further forward, you have Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater to contend with.

Ian Wright believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be back at Chelsea and playing for themIan Wright believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be back at Chelsea and playing for them

Ian Wright believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be back at Chelsea and playing for them

Tiemoue Bakayoko (left) joined Chelsea for £40million from Ligue 1 champions Monaco Tiemoue Bakayoko (left) joined Chelsea for £40million from Ligue 1 champions Monaco 

Tiemoue Bakayoko (left) joined Chelsea for £40million from Ligue 1 champions Monaco

COMPARISON OF RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK AND TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO
Premier League matches in 2017-18 Bakayoko Loftus-Cheek
Team Chelsea Crystal Palace
Games Played 10 7
Minutes Played 763 541
Goals 1 0
Shots, Total (inc. Blocks) 11 9
Shots, on Target 2 0
Shot Conversion Rate (inc. Blocks) 9.09 0
Assists 2 1
Chances Created (inc. assists) 6 10
Passes 394 160
Passing Accuracy 81.98 83.75
Tackles 30 10
Interceptions 12 8
Dribbles Attempted 26 34
Dribbles Completed 19 22
Touches 550 292
Courtesy of Opta

Loftus-Cheek has improved during his loan spell at Crystal Palace this seasonLoftus-Cheek has improved during his loan spell at Crystal Palace this season

Loftus-Cheek has improved during his loan spell at Crystal Palace this season

Loftus-Cheek plays for Palace in their Premier League fixture against Liverpool in AugustLoftus-Cheek plays for Palace in their Premier League fixture against Liverpool in August

Loftus-Cheek plays for Palace in their Premier League fixture against Liverpool in August

And even if Loftus-Cheek was to develop into an accomplished right winger at Palace, he would have to push ahead of Willian and Pedro in the pecking order next season.

Unfortunately for Loftus-Cheek – and Southgate – it is difficult to envisage how he fits in at Chelsea, who have an abundance of both creative and defensive talent in midfield and will quite happily spend big to get more.

The ongoing uncertainty over which is Loftus-Cheek's best position doesn't necessarily play in his favour at Chelsea either – it is better to be the first choice in one position than third choice in three.

In the meantime, Loftus-Cheek will remain at Selhurst Park for the remainder of the season. He can only do himself more credit by continuing to perform well in their first against relegation to the Championship.

It's almost certain now that further opportunities await him for England and a place in the World Cup squad is most definitely within his grasp.

But as so many youngsters have realised, chances at Chelsea may be few and far between.

Loftus-Cheek scored one of his two goals for Chelsea against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup Loftus-Cheek scored one of his two goals for Chelsea against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup 

Loftus-Cheek scored one of his two goals for Chelsea against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup

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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

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In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

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A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

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Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

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Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

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