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Hodgson hopeful Loftus-Cheek will return soon

Midfielder has been out since December with an ankle injury and returned to Chelsea for treatment.

Crystal Palace hope Ruben Loftus-Cheek will return to the club next week despite the midfielder suffering a setback in his attempts to return from an ankle injury.

The 22-year-old has established himself as one of their key players during the course of a season-long loan from Chelsea but has been absent since December 28, having hurt his ankle and with his parent club demanding he returns there for treatment.

His influence, after an impressive start at Selhurst Park that led to him making his senior England debut, has been missed, particularly when before this week Palace had 12 players ruled out injured, but their manager Roy Hodgson is confident he will soon return.

Loftus-Cheek suffered what he described as a “minor injury” understood to be his knee and which has prevented him from returning to the club, as had been planned, this coming weekend.

It means he will miss Monday’s visit of Manchester United, but that he could return at a time when Wilfried Zaha and Mamadou Sakho could again be available.

Hodgson explained: “The plan was, his first (practice match and full training) session was Monday, he was going to do another session on Tuesday and Wednesday was going to be a day off.

“He was due to sign off with Chelsea on either Thursday or Friday and come back to us at the weekend. That was the plan but that was before this other minor injury which occurred which they now have to look at. But we are still hopeful he will be back with us soon.

“Unfortunately in a training session where his ankle was being tested out with the Under-23s – and the session went very well – he has managed in some way to pick up another very minor injury which now of course has to be treated before we get him back here.

“The good news was that the injury which has kept him out for a long period of time, the ankle, seems to be much better and he seems to be on the mend from that. That is quite often the case when people get back into training with a group of players, something else happens and they feel a pain somewhere else and that has to be dealt with.

“We are hopeful that is not going to be a major issue and we are hopeful to see him back at Selhurst Park very soon.”

Regardless of Loftus-Cheek’s fitness after the United fixture, he will remain unavailable for selection until the March 17 trip to Huddersfield at the earliest. Before then Palace visit Chelsea, who he is ineligible to face under the terms of his loan agreement.

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