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Champions League

Thomas Tuchel makes clear true feelings on Billy Gilmour despite “three big problems” claim

Thomas Tuchel insists Billy Gilmour is a key member of his Chelsea squad despite the midfielder’s minor role in recent months.

Gilmour has made just one appearance since Tuchel’s appointment in January, starting the 1-0 FA Cup victory over Championship side Barnsley last month.

The 19-year-old’s rise through the ranks under previous Chelsea manager Frank Lampard appears to have come to an abrupt halt and his only minutes this month have been with the Under-23s.

Gilmour was linked with a loan move away from Stamford Bridge midway through the season, but Tuchel maintains the highly-rated teenager is firmly in his plans.

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Tuchel opened up on why he blocked Gilmour departing on loan in January
Tuchel opened up on why he blocked Gilmour departing on loan in January

“It’s absolutely no mistake. It was unfortunately not his choice, it was my choice,” said the Blues boss when asked if denying Gilmour a January loan was an error.

“The choice was made for Chelsea and not for the personal goals of Billy. He accepted it in a five-minute talk, he had no problem with it.

“I actually hope he knows how much I appreciate him as a person and as a footballer.”

Tuchel explained why Gilmour has had to settle for a minor role recently
Tuchel explained why Gilmour has had to settle for a minor role recently

Although Tuchel speaks very highly of Gilmour, he admits the Scotland Under-21 international faces an uphill battle for minutes in Chelsea’s star-studded midfield.

The German added: “He has three big problems. N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho are three big problems.

“They are never injured and they perform on a level in central midfield that is not easy to compete with. This is the only thing.

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“I have no trust issue with him. I have no problem with attitude.”

Gilmour broke into the first team last season under Lampard's watch
Gilmour broke into the first team last season under Lampard’s watch

Does Billy Gilmour deserve to start the FA Cup clash with Sheffield United? Have your say in the comments.

Chelsea face Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday and Tuchel may use the tie with the Premier League’s bottom club to rotate his midfielders.

Gilmour was left on the bench for the 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday but Tuchel has held regular talks to reaffirm the youngster’s importance.

“We take the decisions for Chelsea and the squad is by far not too big; I feel Billy is a strong part of the squad,” said Tuchel.

“I know it is hard for him and we talk now several times because sometimes he does not make it to the 18 because we play with two central midfielders and I already have one of the three guys I mentioned on the bench.

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“I go for other options to cover other possibilities during a match but it does not mean when you are out of the squad like Billy, that you first have to find your way back to the bench, then you have to find your way back for five minutes, then you can start.

“You can start right away the next game. It can happen when you train in a positive attitude like Billy and with the quality he shows.

“This is the situation. Nothing has changed. I am super happy he is here. We need four strong midfielders.”

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