LONDON (AFP) – Billy Gilmour has set his sights on becoming a mainstay of the Chelsea midfield after the diminutive teenager proved he can stand up to the Premier League’s bully boys.
Gilmour delivered a coming-of-age performance as his smooth passing and tenacious tackling inspired Chelsea’s FA Cup fifth-round win over Liverpool on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old was making only his third start for Chelsea, but he showed no signs of stage-fright against the runaway Premier League leaders.
Gilmour crunched into a tackle on Curtis Jones and cheekily nutmegged Fabinho to the delight of the Stamford Bridge crowd, who should see the youngster again when Everton visit west London today.
Mateo Kovacic is sidelined with an Achilles injury, while N’Golo Kante is still out with adductor trouble and Jorginho misses the match through suspension.
Those midfield issues for Blues boss Frank Lampard are likely to pave the way for Gilmour’s full Premier League debut.
Even if all three were available, Lampard might well have stuck with Gilmour after his virtuoso effort against Liverpool.
Gilmour, who stands just 168cm tall, had no doubts about his ability to mix it with the Premier League’s best after surviving a bruising encounter with Manchester United defender Harry Maguire.
Recalling how the burly Maguire tried to intimidate him during a League Cup tie earlier this season, Gilmour said, “Basically he was saying I’m a wee guy. He was pushing me off, gripping me by the throat, and that’s something I have to deal with.
“I won’t let that happen again, that’s for sure. That was a lesson.
“He is going to try and bully young ones and that’s where I need to learn in the game – how to be stronger.”