Chelsea manager Frank Lampard could have an ace up his sleeve in the battle for a top-four place. The Blues have enjoyed a positive maiden campaign under Lampard's stewardship, although there have been a few bumps along the way.
A mixed bag of results since the turn of the year has seen their advantage over Manchester United in the race of a top-four finish whittled down to three points.
A nightmare start when the 2019/20 campaign resumes - Chelsea travel to Aston Villa on June 21 - could see them slip to fifth, although Lampard has an unused weapon he could unleash when play restarts.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has endured a nightmare year after suffering an Achilles injury in a post-season friendly against New England Revolution in May 2019.
He returned to training in late January and was on track to return to full fitness, being named twice on the bench before the coronavirus lockdown.
Frank Lampard will have been pleased to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek in action
While the period away from the training ground was untimely, Loftus-Cheek has the chance during this mini pre-season to resharpen his fitness levels.
Speaking about his recovery process during lockdown, he said: "I was back training before lockdown but only just so I’ve been doing a lot of what the other boys have been doing, general fitness stuff, but I’ve also had some individual responsibilities to keep my Achilles in check, just to stop any further injuries. It’s been calf workouts and stuff like that, just keeping my body strong for whenever we go back."
Loftus-Cheek participated in contact training as Phase One progressed to Phase Two but it is Saturday's behind-closed-doors friendly at Stamford Bridge that suggests he is nearing a return.
The first-team players were split into two sides - one wearing the home kit and the other in the away strip - with Lampard and his coaching team officiating.
While the Chelsea boss will have been keeping a close eye on all his players, he will have been particularly pleased with Loftus-Cheek's performance as the attacking midfielder got on the scoresheet.
If he is available for the majority of the remaining fixtures then that would provide a serious boost to the Blues. What team would not be excited by the opportunity to welcome back a 10-cap England international?
A lack of firepower has been a problem for Chelsea - rectified for next season by the captures of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech - but Loftus-Cheek has shown he can hit the back of the net when given a regular run in the Premier League.
Lampard is a big fan of the 24-year-old, describing him as "one of the most exciting English midfield players".
Sure, Loftus-Cheek is unlikely to be thrown in at the deep end at Aston Villa but scoring at Stamford Bridge is a timely reminder to Lampard of his talent.
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