Crystal Palace expecting Ruben Loftus-Cheek return on Monday
Crystal Palace expect Ruben Loftus-Cheek to return to the club on Monday and be declared fit to play for the first time in 2018.
The on-loan midfielder, 22, has been with parent club Chelsea since his last first-team appearance -- in the 3-2 defeat by Arsenal on Dec. 28.
He has been receiving treatment on an ankle injury and also suffered setbacks in his attempts to recover.
Loftus-Cheek had previously been so influential that he had been expected to be included in the England squad for the summer's World Cup, and in his absence Palace have slid from the relative safety of mid-table to the Premier League's bottom three.
Roy Hodgson's team on Saturday visit Chelsea, where Loftus-Cheek would have been ineligible owing to the terms of his loan. But at a time when Wilfried Zaha and Mamadou Sakho are nearing first-team returns, Hodgson is optimistic about the midfielder's prospects of featuring on March 17 at Huddersfield.
His availability would also represent a significant positive for England manager Gareth Southgate, whose central midfield options are limited, and Hodgson said he expected Loftus-Cheek to train on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week.
"Then as long as he comes through those three sessions OK, which both we and he are hoping, he will have Sunday off and will come back [to Palace] on Monday and he will be available to us,'' Hodgson said.
"The medical department have to look and speak with him but my hope is that he will come on Monday, walk into the treatment room, they will say 'How you feeling Ruben?' and he will say, 'I'm feeling great, what time does training start?'
"That is what I am hoping for. I've had a few disappointments lately so I've learnt to lower my level of hope and optimism.''
Zaha and Sakho face late fitness tests before Hodgson selects his starting XI at Stamford Bridge, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah is again available having been ineligible against parent club Manchester United on Monday, but the 70-year-old Palace manager remains without the injured Yohan Cabaye because of a groin injury.