Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has singled out Ruben Loftus-Cheek for scathing criticism following his side's post-season 1-0 friendly win against Sydney FC, claiming his relationship with the player has now taken a step back.
Loftus-Cheek, 19, was rewarded with two first team opportunities against Liverpool and West Brom during the Blues' season run-in, with his manager going onto promise him a role in the first team next season.
The Lewisham-born midfielder had been scheduled to start in Tuesday's friendly in Sydney but was replaced ahead of kick off by Jeremie Boga. He was given his chance after 40 minutes when he replaced Diego Costa, but then suffered the indignity of being substituted himself with 20 minutes remaining.
Initial suggestions where Loftus-Cheek had suffered a knock, but Mourinho's post match comments suggest he was unhappy with the "unacceptable" work rate of the player regarded as Chelsea's brightest young prospect.
Mourinho said: "He said it was a pain in his back but to me it looked like he only had that pain when Sydney had the ball."
The Chelsea boss went onto highlight the effort of his senior players, commenting: "You could see some tired performances but performances where the senior players really tried to play football. I am happy with my senior players; it has been a very long season for them."
Mourinho has previously been extremely forthright in his praise for Loftus-Cheek, who was also named in Gareth Southgate's England Under-21 preliminary squad ahead of the European Championships later this month.
The Chelsea boss said in March: "I can say now, Loftus-Cheek is to stay. To stay and I think to stay and to play. I think next year to play, not just to stay. Stay and play."