Chelsea’s own Steve Clarke got Scotland into their first Euros since 1996. The expanded format may help them do so again, but the chances are still high that this may be a unique opportunity for Scotland, not to be seen again for some time. And that should be a concern for players that aren’t playing and are on the fringe of the national team. It should be a concern for Billy Gilmour.
There were hints of a loan involving Gilmour as far back as December. He understood that he would need playing time to have a shot at making the squad. Frank Lampard wanted him to stay but understood the desire to play in what very well could be his only Euros. He had convinced Gilmour he would get enough time and was giving him minutes to prove it. Then Lampard was sacked and Thomas Tuchel came in as the window reached its end.
Again, Gilmour considered going on loan. Impressing a brand new manager midseason is hard for a young player, but Tuchel convinced him that the minutes would be there for the Scotsman. They haven’t been. Gilmour has played just once for the new German manager and has only made the bench one other time aside of that.
Keep in mind that this comes with an expanded bench available to managers. Instead of using an extra spot for Gilmour, Tuchel has often opted to include all three of Marcos Alonso, Emerson, and Ben Chilwell in the squad. What situation he thinks he’ll run into where he’ll need all three of those in a match isn’t clear because there virtually isn’t one.
It is unknown where Gilmour could have gone on loan but he could be playing week in and week out to earn his shot at the Euros. Based on the play he has put in over these last two seasons, he surely would have made the squad if he had gone on loan and gotten the minutes. But he was convinced those minutes would be available at Chelsea and thus far it looks as though he has been tricked.
Gilmour is not going to make the Euros squad playing once every few weeks when the FA Cup comes around. He might be able to make it as a sub in matches but because Tuchel has thus far preferred the full complement of left backs, Gilmour hasn’t even had a chance at that. Tuchel’s done a lot right at Chelsea thus far and should be commended for that, but his usage of Gilmour has been abhorrent given what’s on the line.
A player only has one career and in that career, there are only so many times something is available. Callum Hudson-Odoi understood this when Maurizio Sarri wasn’t playing him and Bayern Munich came calling. Tammy Abraham nearly left for Wolverhampton before Lampard convinced him to stay and then played him. Gilmour’s been convinced, but there has yet to be a sign that he was right to stay.
Gilmour may only have one Euros and it will be a tragedy if he misses them. That was well known when Tuchel convinced him to stay. Tuchel needs to at least find a spot on the bench for the young Scotsman instead of squeezing in every left back he won’t use.
Because it would be a tragedy if Gilmour’s one shot at the Euros is lost by a broken promise. And those kinds of broken promises usually come with transfer requests and players that should be playing at Chelsea doing well elsewhere without regrets. Chelsea’s seen that story too often and they really don’t need to go down that road again.