Conor Gallagher, who will be hoping to add to his three England caps over the coming days, has been discussing Chelsea’s big representation in the latest camp and his own club future in the build-up to upcoming internationals…
The young midfielder made his Three Lions bow back in November and added a further two appearances in March, a reward for his impressive campaign on loan at Crystal Palace.
That spell at Selhurst Park saw the 22-year-old’s tenacity, hard work and efficiency in front of goal endear him to the Eagles supporters and earn him an immediate place on their team sheet as they reached the FA Cup semi-finals and secured a 12th-place finish in the Premier League. In all competitions, he scored eight and registered five assists; only Wilfried Zaha among the Palace ranks was involved in more goals all season.
Gareth Southgate’s interest was certainly piqued, as was Thomas Tuchel’s, the German head coach of Chelsea having worked with the Cobham graduate during pre-season and followed his endeavours this term closely. Yet Gallagher is well aware he has plenty to work on if he is to add a senior Chelsea debut to his recent Three Lions bow.
‘I know what I’m good at and what I need to improve on so I’ll be focused on that,’ he said ahead of England’s UEFA Nations League clash with Hungary on Saturday.
‘I feel like runs into the box I’m good at and I can win the ball back well and press well. I like to score goals and I want to score more.
‘I can be more aware on the ball in deeper areas and have a better vision sometimes. There’s loads of things and I could go on for ages but I’m very determined to work hard and improve as a footballer still.’
Gallagher is one of seven players in the latest England camp to have spent time developing in the Chelsea Academy, a proportion that exceeds 25 per cent of Southgate’s current group.
With so many familiar faces at St George’s Park, it’s hard for the midfielder not to be aware of the Cobham effect and he is particularly praiseworthy to the often unsung work that goes on over so many years.
‘I heard that stat and I think it’s a lot of credit to how the Academy is run by the coaches, Neil Bath and Jim Fraser [head and assistant of youth development] and their philosophies. The players that they’ve produced is amazing.
‘One of the guys at Palace said to me that every player he’s ever met who’s come through Chelsea is always very humble and hard-working, and that’s credit to Chelsea.
‘Marc Guehi is here as well and obviously we’ve been at Palace this season and we grew up in the Academy at Chelsea together so we’re really close. We’re normally together but all the lads are lovely guys and very easy to get along with. It’s a very easy squad to come into, which is nice.’
Gallagher describes his debut at Wembley back in November’s huge 10-0 win over San Marino as ‘a dream of mine and I loved every minute’ but he knows that competition is stiff ahead of the World Cup this winter.
As much as booking a place on the plane to Qatar, the Surrey-born youngster wants to earn a place in Tuchel’s squad at Stamford Bridge but he believes there will be plenty of time later in the summer to earn that opportunity and suggests people shouldn’t read too much into his recent post on social media reflecting on his time at Palace in the past tense.
‘I don’t know why you look too much into the words because my English ain’t great!’ he laughed, before adding: ‘It’s been incredible for me at Palace this season and I’ve loved every minute of it. The fans, players, staff and Patrick have just been amazing with me and I just have to thank them all.
‘It’s been unreal but the season has just finished and I’ve come straight here with England so I know it’s boring but I’ve not thought about it. I’m just focused on the four games here with England.’