Billy Gilmour is ready to battle for his spot at Chelsea after returning from a knee injury that he sustained in July, but Frank Lampard hasn’t ruled out a January loan move for the youngster. The 19-year-old signed for the Blues three and a half years ago in a £600,000 ($800,000) move from Rangers and he has since worked his way up into Lampard’s first team. However, a knee injury sustained against Crystal Palace last season halted his progress after a headline-grabbing breakthrough in senior football.
The Blues have since spent £220 million ($275m) on new signings and climbed into league title contention since his recent return. Still, the Scotland Under-21 international is not hiding away from increased competition.
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“I am a Chelsea player right now. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am proud to be here and playing games and will have to wait to see what happens,” Gilmour told reporters ahead of his side’s Champions League clash with Krasnodar.
“The gaffer has been really good with me. He has been speaking to me while I have been injured. I need to work hard here and get my opportunity and when I do, hopefully, I take it and play well. It has been a long time out since my first major injury.
“I was disappointed to get it, but now I am back and feeling strong and I can’t wait to be going again. There has been a lot of new signings, good players, good additions to the squad and you can see the competition for places in the team is a good thing and that’s why we are playing so well.
“You can see they are good players that have come in, in the attacking sense we have been doing really well with the goals we’ve been scoring, but I need to focus on coming back into the team and playing again.
“Chelsea is a massive team and everyone knows the standards. That is why we are doing so well in the league.” Chelsea has qualified for the last-16 of the Champions League and confirmed their top spot with a game to spare after beating Sevilla 4-0 last time out.
In the final matchday of the group, Krasnodar will visit Stamford Bridge with little to play for, and it will allow Lampard to give Gilmour his first start since his knee issue. Having already given him his Champions League debut from the bench, Lampard spoke in detail about his plans for Gilmour in the next month and the winter transfer window.
“I think Billy will start tomorrow,” Lampard said at Cobham Training Centre. “With Billy, I don’t want to have that thought or conversation until the window opens and it is not open now. I value him a lot in this squad.
“You say we have options in midfield, that quickly changes as we have seen with the winger situation. Hakim gets injured at the weekend [versus Leeds] and Callum gets injured in training and the numbers are not so great. I will make that decision going forward.”
Gilmour’s impressive start to his senior professional career has only added to the value that the Scottish Football Association (SFA) place on their young talent. Having been with the Under-21s since he was just 15 years old, there are now loud calls for him to make his senior debut under manager Steve Clarke.
Clarke’s side qualified for Euro 2020, which will now take place in the summer of 2021, and Gilmour is keen to be in the discussion to make the squad ahead of group matches against England, Croatia, and the Czech Republic. “I am a Chelsea player and I need to work hard here then hopefully the opportunity does come,” he continued. “It would be amazing, but I need to play here, work hard, and play well.”
He went onto describe his feeling of watching Scotland qualify through penalties in a European Championship Play-Off match with Serbia: “We were with the Scotland U21s team, in the hotel and all the players and staff were in the dining room watching on the big TV. “When they scored to equalize, it was tense, but after that and through we were buzzing. We were all jumping around and celebrating. It was a good feeling.”