Billy Gilmour has emerged at just the right time for Frank Lampard
Billy Gilmour’s timing, like his display against Liverpool, is almost perfect as the youngster has burst on to the scene just as Frank Lampard faces a run of crunch games without injured big names and the banned Jorginho
- Billy Gilmour drew praise from some huge names for display against Liverpool
- The 18-year-old academy graduate looked the part in Chelsea’s midfield
- Manager Frank Lampard led a chorus of praise for ‘incredible’ Gilmour
- Gilmour is likely to feature more often with Lampard missing key personnel
- N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Willian among those out injured at present
- Jorginho is going to miss Chelsea’s next three games through suspension
Chelsea had left Liverpool’s Treble hopes in the dust and there was only one name on everyone’s lips at Stamford Bridge.
Billy Gilmour, their boyish-looking but supremely competent and confident 18-year-old midfielder, had excelled as the Blues marched on to the FA Cup quarter-finals.
In all likelihood, Chelsea’s Champions League ambitions will come to an end in Bavaria on March 18, but their domestic season is very much alive.
Teenager Billy Gilmour was excellent as Chelsea defeated Liverpool 2-0 in the FA Cup
The Scottish youngster, a graduate from Chelsea’s academy, won the man of the match award
Manager Frank Lampard was delighted with Chelsea’s progression to the quarter-finals
But with a top-four finish in the Premier League and the FA Cup to compete for, Frank Lampard now finds himself without some key personnel at a bad moment.
Mateo Kovacic and Willian both picked up achilles problems during the win over Liverpool, exacerbating an already lengthy injury list featuring Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and N’Golo Kante.
And to compound matters, Jorginho will miss their next two Premier League fixtures after accumulating 10 yellow cards this season and the Italian is also suspended for the European return leg with Bayern Munich as well.
This pile-up of injuries and suspensions is badly timed given Chelsea play Everton, a side with European aspirations, in an important game this Sunday before a trip to Aston Villa precedes their game in Munich.
Their FA Cup quarter-final tie will also be played before the end of the month.
Jorginho’s ill discipline means he will miss Chelsea’s next three games through suspension
Mateo Kovacic went off with an achilles injury as Chelsea’s treatment table got busier
The injury setbacks come as a blow to Chelsea in their efforts to cling on to fourth place
Premier League unless stated
Sunday Everton (H)
March 14 Aston Villa (A)
March 18 Bayern Munich (A) Champions League last-16, second leg
March 21/22 FA Cup quarter-final (TBC)
April 5 West Ham (A)
April 12 Watford (H)
So the buzz around Gilmour comes at a good time for Lampard and it looks highly likely the Scottish teenager will get further chances to impress.
The manager was certainly full of praise for the latest graduate – he signed from Rangers in the summer of 2017 when he was just 16 – to emerge on Tuesday night.
‘What an incredible performance for a young player,’ Lampard said. ‘He’s a throwback of a midfielder.
‘Can you put your foot in? Yes. Can you make angles to play the passes? Yes. He’s only slight in stature but he’s huge in personality.
‘He deserves people to talk about him after a performance like that.’
His delightful roll of the ball and body swerve to send Fabinho in the opposite direction in the closing minutes crowned a performance that exuded confidence.
There will be a clamour for Gilmour to start against Everton and, given the circumstances, there’s every chance he will.
If Lampard goes with his familiar 3-4-2-1 formation, Gilmour could play the role of Jorginho at the base of midfield as he did against Liverpool.
Lampard could have more game time for Gilmour in the weeks ahead amid the injury issues
The youngster was the first to congratulate Ross Barkley after he scored Chelsea’s second
Chelsea’s injury list
N’Golo Kante (groin)
Callum Hudson-Odoi (thigh)
Andreas Christensen (knock)
Marco van Ginkel (knee)
Tammy Abraham (illness/ankle)
Mateo Kovacic (achilles)
Christian Pulisic (groin)
Plus Jorginho is suspended for Chelsea’s next three games because of yellow card accumulation
In the absence of Kante and Kovacic, it will likely have to be Ross Barkley stationed alongside him.
The two worked well in tandem against Liverpool, with Barkley sealing their progress with a solo effort on 64 minutes.
It’s unclear for now how long Kovacic will be sidelined for, with Lampard saying his achilles problem ‘feels slightly worse’ than Willian’s.
You’d expect him to miss a few weeks and in that regard Jorginho’s suspension really does come at an inconvenient time.
Kante went off with an adductor injury in the defeat by Manchester United the other week, with Lampard admitting it ‘doesn’t look great’ when it comes to a swift return.
A time frame of three weeks was placed on his return so there’s every chance we could see the Frenchman playing again before the international break at the end of the month.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is back on the pitch and came through 90 minutes for the Under-23 team against Everton on Monday night.
But after the England midfielder missed 10 months with an achilles injury, Lampard will be reluctant to rush him back into first-team action until he gets fully up to speed.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (right) returned to the field for Chelsea’s Under 23s on Monday night
Willian was another Chelsea casualty on Tuesday night, also suffering an achilles injury
So Gilmour and Barkley could well be the way forward for Chelsea in the next couple of weeks, with Mason Mount and Pedro playing the more advanced role behind Abraham or Olivier Giroud.
We don’t yet know how long Willian will be out for but losing a player who has featured in 36 games this season comes as a major blow for Lampard.
Abraham has been struggling with his ankle but it was actually illness that kept him out of the Bournemouth and Liverpool games, so he could well return for Everton on Sunday.
Hudson-Odoi, who damaged his hamstring in training, and Pulisic, who has a hip problem, aren’t yet ready to return.
Leading scorer Tammy Abraham has been struggling with an ankle knock and illness of late
So it will delight Lampard that Gilmour performed so well in what was the biggest occasion of his young career so far.
It feels like Lampard’s first season at Chelsea has been cursed by injury setbacks, preventing him from fielding his strongest team and getting a firmer grip on a top-four finish.
That handicap goes on but Lampard will take enormous pleasure in seeing another young talent from the Chelsea production line look right at home on the biggest stage.
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