ALEX McLEISH reckons it is only a matter of time before Chelsea wonderkid Billy Gilmour becomes a mainstay for his country.

The 18-year-old midfielder has been a revelation since Stamford Bridge boss Frank Lampard threw him in at the deep end against Liverpool in the 2-0 FA Cup success and he ­followed it up with another impressive display against Everton.

The former Rangers prospect has been training with the London club’s first team for three years and veteran gaffer says that while Steve Clarke is under no huge pressure to pick him now – that calls for his inclusion will inevitably grow.

McLeish, speaking to the media, said: “As Scotland’s boss, you hear constantly about the development of a whole host of players.

“But it seemed every time I bumped into Malky Mackay, the performance director of the Scottish Football Association, the conversation would inevitably turn to Billy Gilmour.

“So, I had been briefed by Malky extensively before I watched him in a game against England Under-21s at Tynecastle.

“It was as if this wee dot of a boy was walking in the land of the giants. England had a group of big, strong, athletic boys who were charging all over the pitch – players such as Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, for instance – and Billy looked like he couldn’t have cared less.

“He was giving them a few years in age, but he stood out because of his confidence on the ball. And it’s what Chelsea’s fans are seeing – but Frank Lampard would clearly have known all about that.

“Now, of course, there will be a clamour for Steve Clarke to include him. And he does have a difficult choice to make in there because he already has good midfielders.

“More importantly, he has established some momentum in that area of the field and he won’t want to disrupt it.

“The likes of Ryan Christie and James Forrest, for instance, aren’t going to give up their places lightly.

“But, at the same time, if Billy is playing regularly for Chelsea, then it is very difficult to ignore him. Steve knows only too well the level and quality that is demanded at Stamford Bridge.

“The point is, if Billy is progressing and playing then he is going to get a look in sooner rather than later. And if he can take that step up in his stride in the way he has taken to the Premier League, then he could take some dislodging.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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