Chelsea's unbeaten start to the season under Maurizio Sarri has exceeded all expectations, but the visit to the Crystal Palace on Sunday recalls that one of the best views of the club has again fallen into disfavor.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek made four international appearances in the English final of the World Cup semi-finals last summer, after lending a loan at Selhurst Park last season, which provided him with the competitive minutes of the Premier League needed to convince Gareth Southgate to Russia.
However, the 22-year-old starts a league game this season and has not even created the Southgate squad for the Nations League contests last month, as England scored an impressive four points from trips to Croatia and Spain.
Southgate has repeatedly expressed its concern about the lack of opportunities offered to young English players. The summer signings of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic forced Loftus-Cheek in an oversubscribed Chelsea midfield to further lower the pecking order.
However, Loftus-Cheek was overtaken by another England international at Ross Barkley.
The former Everton midfielder admitted that he was frustrated watching from afar as Loftus-Cheek and his company became national heroes in Russia.
The roles were reversed, however, as Barkley started in Croatia and Spain for over two years for the first time in England, while Loftus-Cheek stayed at home.
"He's becoming a very, very important player for us and not just us, but also the English," said Sarri of Barkley on Friday.
After an injury-prone first season at Chelsea, Barkley uses his chance to score through his team's last three games in the Premier League.
Loftus-Cheek has also given Sarri a much-needed threat in recent weeks as Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have fought back and Eden Hazard injured their back, meaning the Belgian is unlikely to start on Sunday.
Despite a hat-trick against BATE Borisov, Loftus-Cheek launched at Burnley last weekend before beating a 4-0 victory in stoppage time.
– Palace still in demand –
It's no secret that Palace would like to bring him back in January, when a deal can be made.
"We admire him, we like him very much, we wish him well, and of course, like many other clubs, we are sure that when the day comes when he will be available for a transfer, we'll put our noses in," Palace manager Roy Hodgson recently said.
Sarri excluded another loan deal on Friday. In the coming months, however, his management skills will be severely tested if he is to make all the members of a bloated squad happy.
Cesc Fabregas has played a minor role since his injury but scored the 3-2 league cup thriller over Derby County on Wednesday.
Andreas Christensen's father has suggested that the Danish international will consider his options in January if he has not previously grabbed Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz.
Like Loftus-Cheek, Christensen wants to be the first player to make the leap from the Chelsea-acclaimed academy to a regular since John Terry. The 37-year-old former English captain retired last month.
Jadon Sancho has paved the way for young English prospects to leave the comfort of the traditional Top 6 in the Premier League to become more competitive by refusing a lucrative contract with Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund.
At just 18, he made his international debut last month after scoring five goals and earning eight assists for the German giants this season.
Four years older than a senior, it's time for Loftus-Cheek to be faithful to Chelsea if he does not start regular.
Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is likely to leave the starting lineup when old club Crystal Palace visits Stamford Bridge on Sunday
After an injury-prone first season at Chelsea, Ross Barkley uses his chance to score in his team's first three games in their last three games
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri's man-management skills will be intensively tested over the coming months to make every member of a bloated squad happy