Loftus-Cheek struggling with back problem

Antonio Conte says a back problem denied Ruben Loftus-Cheek a chance to impress against Watford.

Conte made major changes for the win over the Hornets, bringing in youngsters Nathaniel Chalobah, Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake and Kenedy, with Ola Aina coming on as a substitute.

But the Blues boss was unable to call upon Loftus-Cheek, who would have featured 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.”

Conte also indicated that Loftus-Cheek could be loaned out by Chelsea next season.

A number of clubs have been linked with the midfielder, including Stoke and West Ham.

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.”