Back in the side for his first Premier League start of the season in our win against Fulham, Billy Gilmour reflected afterwards on the need to constantly impress and meet the high expectations of the intense and demanding Thomas Tuchel…
The young Scot made his ninth appearance of the campaign when starting in the south-west London derby, operating as the deepest of the midfielders and taking responsibility for both defensive shielding as well as keeping our possession play ticking over in the absence of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.
It was his first league start since our victory at Crystal Palace last July, a game in which the teenager damaged the meniscus in his knee and found himself requiring surgery.
While he has been back to full fitness for some time now following that spell on the sidelines, midfield minutes have been harder to come by given the competition ahead of him. It was, therefore, no surprise to hear Gilmour both took a little while to settle in the frenetic Premier League contest and was left feeling the effects of a rigorous runout in the dying stages of the match.
‘It was a tough game,’ he admitted. ‘I’ve not played in a while so it was good to be back out there and playing football again.
‘The first couple of times I needed to find my feet again and get used to the pace of the game but eventually I got my rhythm and I done okay.
‘I’m working hard at the training ground, doing a lot and whenever I get the call I’m ready. Towards the end of the game I did feel a bit tired but that’s usual when you’ve not played in a while.’
Tuchel had previously only used Gilmour in the FA Cup, against Barnsley and Sheffield United en route to the final, but the boss has been pleased with his young midfielder’s attitude and application throughout his three months in charge.
Likewise, Gilmour has relished working with the former Paris Saint-Germain head coach and revealed how the German’s approach keeps standards high.
‘He’s very hands on, very intense and demanding of the players but he keeps you on your toes,’ he continued. 'You need to work hard in this team. I’m sure he is proud of the result and the performance from the boys.
‘We know our jobs in the team. We know we want to play forward quick, break the lines, get behind teams and punish them. We’re working on that every day at the training ground so it becomes second nature.’
Facing big games every few days has also become something of a habit for the Blues as we fight on three fronts into the final month of a campaign like no other. Real Madrid are up next, the Spaniards standing in between us and a place in the Champions League final, but Gilmour insisted the team’s focus never wavers from the next task at hand.
‘It was an important game because we know we need to keep pushing to get in the top four,’ he added of the 2-0 victory over Fulham. ‘We have big teams coming up so it was a big three points and a hard-fought win.
‘We’re taking it a game at a time. We had Madrid last week, we had Fulham and now we’re focused on Madrid again. All the boys are working hard and you can see the results.
‘There is a good buzz around the camp. We know we’re in an FA Cup final, we’re in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Madrid, so it’s all down to us. We’re ready to go, we’re up for any challenge, so it’s going to be interesting towards the end of the season.’