Billy Gilmour could play his first competitive football since early July this week as he continues his recovery from a long-term knee injury north of the border with Scotland Under-21s.

The teenager has not featured since damaging the meniscus in his right knee in our 3-2 win at Crystal Palace following the post-lockdown restart in the summer.

After making 11 appearances under Frank Lampard last term, and impressing with man of the match performances in back-to-back games against Liverpool and Everton before the shutdown, it was a cruel way for the youngster’s breakthrough season to end.

Four months on, Gilmour is back training with the squad at Cobham and hopes this international break will work out well for him to start building up some much-needed minutes.

‘It wasn’t the best timing but the recovery has been going well,’ he says ahead of this afternoon’s big qualifier against Croatia. ‘I’m back training and I’m here to get some minutes hopefully.

‘It’s amazing to be back with the squad. I’ve been out for a long time so I can’t wait to get back and try to help the team qualify.’

Scotland’s youngsters are aiming to reach the Under-21 European Championship finals for the first time since 1996. For a gauge of just how long ago that was, Claude Makelele and Gianluigi Buffon were two of the stars of the tournament!

Gilmour acknowledges it’s been a while since this age group competed amongst Europe’s best ahead of a defining week for Scottish football. The Under-21s are two wins away from securing qualification, while Steve Clarke’s senior side could seal their place at next summer’s Euros with a win in their play-off against Serbia later this evening.

‘It’s a massive week for the country,’ Gilmour states. ‘Hopefully the first team can go and do it. For us, it’s been a long time since an Under-21 team has qualified but we have two games where we have a really good chance of making some history ourselves.’

Looking further ahead, the midfielder believes he can force his way back into Lampard’s plans once he’s back to full fitness.

‘I’m enjoying it,’ he adds. ‘It’s a great experience and great for my development to play with these world-class players. There’s so many trophies in there and I’m learning every day.

‘It’s nice to get recognised for the good stuff. I’m going to keep working hard and continuing my form once I’m back from my injury. It’s going to be a hard team to get into but hopefully I’ll get more game time and experience.’