Billy Gilmour has discussed his journey back from injury and the importance of impressing Frank Lampard when he returns to the starting line-up against Krasnodar.
The teenage midfielder burst onto the scene with Chelsea last season but has had to stay strong mentally as his progress has repeatedly been interrupted by bad luck.
First, immediately after earning back-to-back Man of the Match awards for his performances against Liverpool and Everton, he had to wait over three months to get back out on the pitch as football was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Then, after being given a run of games by Lampard, Gilmour’s season was ended early by a knee injury suffered against Crystal Palace that required surgery. Those set-backs posed a significant challenge for a young player, dealing with his first serious injury and living alone for the first time, all during the Covid-19 pandemic, but he feels it has made him stronger.
‘It’s been a long time out with my first major injury,’ he said. ‘It was disappointing to get it but now I’m back and feeling strong and I can’t wait to get going again.
‘Just being back on the pitch, working hard in training and being back with the lads, it really helps you a lot to come back into training with this game coming up. It’s helped me a lot and I can’t wait.
‘When I was in the team playing, doing well, and then to get that injury was disappointing, but I’ve been back for a couple of weeks now, been working hard in training to get myself back in the team.
‘When I was injured it was tough. It was during lockdown as well, where you can’t do much, so I was stuck in the house watching a lot of football, coming into the training ground doing my work. But then I started getting out of the crutches, started seeing positive steps. I was doing a lot more in the gym and getting to go outside and do a bit of jogging and passing the ball. So as soon as I went back on the pitch I was fine, my head was fine mentally.
‘I’ve grown up. During lockdown as well, I moved into my own place, so it was a bit difficult, but with the injury I took good care of myself. I have to do all the bills and the cooking, it’s going well. My mum’s been helping me. She’s not down any more, but it was good when she was here because I could just watch!’
The young Scot returned to senior football as a substitute in our last Champions League tie against Sevilla and Lampard has already confirmed Gilmour will make his first start for Chelsea since that match at Selhurst Park in early July when we host Krasnodar tomorrow.
With several new signings arriving at the club during the time he has been out, Gilmour feels the added competition among the squad has been the key to our good form this season and knows he has to take his opportunity to show why he should be playing.
‘There’s 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’re playing so well.
‘Chelsea are a massive team and everyone here knows the standards you need to go and win and that’s why we’ve been doing so well in the league.
‘You can see they’re good players that have come in and in an attacking sense we’ve been doing really well with the goals we’ve been scoring, but I’m looking forward to coming back into the team and playing again.
‘The competition for places in this team, it’s very hard to get a game, but with the opportunity I’ve got tomorrow, I’ve got to take that and show why I should be in the team. We’ve got a big game tomorrow, we’re going to go there with the right mentality to win the game first.’