Chelsea captain John Terry has told academy starlet Ruben Loftus-Cheek to remain "mentally strong" should he want to have a future at Stamford Bride after manager Jose Mourinho slammed his performance in the post-season 1-0 friendly win against Sydney FC on Tuesday 2 June.
The 19-year-old is regarded as one of the next big things to emerge from the Stamford Bridge academy - having being at the Blues since the Under-8 age group.
Mourinho handed him his debut first-team appearance during the Champions League 3-1 victory over Sporting Lisbon on 10 December and rewarded him with more first-team opportunities during the last part of the Premier League once the Blues clinched the title.
The Portuguese boss didn't have any trouble praising his performances during the season while assuring he will have a first-team role next campaign – after playing the Under-21 European Championships with Gareth Southgate's England squad.
But the boss claimed his relationship with the midfielder took a step back following his inconsistent performance against Sidney, when the player was substituted with 20 minutes remaining after only having stepped on the pitch into the 40th minute of the game.
"Ruben said he had a pain in his back but what I was feeling was that he only had the pain when Sydney had the ball. When Chelsea had the ball he was playing very well, but when Sydney had the ball I think he was more impressed by watching Matic and Mikel work, instead of him working. So, with Ruben, it's one step back in terms of my relationship with him. If he doesn't know what it is to play for me and Chelsea it's one step back," the boss said.
And now captain Terry has urged Loftus-Cheek to not give up on his intentions to play for the first team but to take the criticism on the chin and keep mentally strong.
"He's a young boy and he needs to take it on the chin. I'm sure he will, but as captain I'll have a quiet word, for sure. The manager picks his times when he digs people out. That's part of his learning curve and he's got the off-season to think about that now," Terry said as quoted by Standard Sport.
"He's come on a couple of times and started a couple of games late in the season, but for him to make that next step and become a regular, it doesn't happen easily. If you want to get into this team, you need to be very good and mentally strong."