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Barkley backs Gilmour (18) for a starring role against Toffees

 

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Billy Gilmour

Billy Gilmour

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Billy Gilmour

Ross Barkley has tipped teenage midfielder Billy Gilmour to plug Chelsea's injury gaps in Sunday's Premier League clash with Everton.

The 18-year-old Scot belied his rookie status to boss Tuesday's 2-0 FA Cup win over Premier League champions-elect Liverpool, deservedly winning the man-of-the-match award.

He mopped up in defence, threaded killer balls in attack - and even nutmegged Brazil midfielder Fabinho in a virtuoso coming-of-age performance.

Mateo Kovacic faces a nervous wait to discover the extent of an Achilles injury, while N'Golo Kante is out with adductor trouble and Jorginho will miss the Everton match through suspension.

That could pave the way for Gilmour's full Premier League debut this weekend, and Barkley has offered a ringing endorsement of the former Rangers youth star.

Asked if Chelsea can cope with all their absentees, with Gilmour primed to step up, Barkley said: "Yes, because with injuries everyone has just got to be ready to take their chance.

"Billy was ready for his chance against Liverpool and he took it.

"With injuries, it gives opportunities for other lads to take, and the manager is willing to put lads in. If you deserve the chance and play well, you get in the team.

"We work really hard, the players that say are on the bench, we do extra work all the time so we are always ready to help the side out when we need to."

An Achilles concern for Willian could worsen the injury list for the Blues, who were also already without Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen on Tuesday.

Barkley drilled a bullet finish to cap a lightning counter-attack to seal Chelsea's fine fifth-round win at Stamford Bridge, after Willian had opened the scoring.

Ex-Everton star Barkley is itching to face his old side having shaken off a long-standing foot issue earlier this term, but took the time to underline still further the searing potential in youngster Gilmour.

"For me, it doesn't surprise me; I see him doing it in training every day, he doesn't have a day when he is struggling," Barkley said of his team-mate.

"For a young lad he is really mature with his ability on the ball, he makes the right decision most of the time.

"I like him, and the manager and coaching staff love him as well."

Belfast Telegraph