The Rangers loan will help Scottish outsider Billy Gilmour get back on track
And no wonder. The aftermath of a famous victory over one of the biggest and most successful footballing nations in the world was a time for the Tartan Army to celebrate and commend those responsible. Such results do not come often among the supporters of this country. So you had every right to devour every minute of it.
But the peripheral role Gilmour now has within the national lineup is sad to see — and also a little worrying for the future.
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He quickly established himself as a regular in Steve Clarke’s starting line-up after making his competitive debut in the 2021 Euro 2020 game against England at Wembley – in which he played brilliantly – and showed a string of mature and inspired performances midway through the park at key meetings.
He forged an exceptional partnership in central midfield with Callum McGregor in Qatar 2022 qualifiers, helping Scotland to beat Moldova twice as well as Austria, Israel, the Faroe Islands and Denmark and amassing six wins in significant games for the first time in 91 years. The future looked bright for both him and his home country.
In the last five competitive games that the boys played in dark blue, the 21-year-old was not even used as a substitute. The last time he was involved in an important match was the Nations League match against Minnows Armenia in June last year in Yerevan.
Had Gilmour gone missing? Not special. Rangers’ Ryan Jack and Manchester United’s Scott McTominay have done fairly well in his absence. The latter, who not all fans have been entirely convinced of in the past, may have achieved legendary status with back-to-back double wins in Group A victories against Cyprus and Spain.
Clarke spoke extensively to the media before, during and after the opening doubles of Euro 2024, answering questions on a myriad of topics. He was asked about Craig Gordon’s replacement, the state of the Oriam courts and the fitness of Kieran Tierney and McTominay after difficult seasons.
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At no time, however, was he asked about his compatriot from Ayrshire. It underscored how irrelevant the youngster has become to his country over the past 18 months. He’s gone from being a support darling to a little afterthought.
Both Clarke and his compatriots hoped Gilmour would flourish when he sealed a £7million transfer from Chelsea to Brighton in September and wrapped up a tough loan spell at Norwich City last season. However, he has only played 10 games for the Amex Stadium team this season. He played less than 90 minutes of football in 2023.
It is worth remembering that the former Rangers kid is still young. He is in many ways a victim of his own success. So much is not expected of many other footballers of his age and his inexperience. Time is on his side. He still has many years at the highest level ahead of him and can realize his enormous potential when the time comes.
McGregor, who earned his 50th cap against Cyprus last weekend, took several years to break through at Celtic. He had to be loaned out to English League One side Notts County to get playing time. He was at the proud age of 22 when he started regularly for his teenage heroes.
Gilmour serves in a demanding and critical role at the park. The 5ft 7in player has a history of impressing onlookers with his tenacity, technical prowess, coolness under pressure and intelligence on and off the ball.
But it’s perhaps understandable that Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi has preferred Pascal Gross and Alexis Mac Allister to him in the deep-slung midfield bunks in the 4-2-3-1 formation he favors against Premier League opponents.
Should he stay in Brighton beyond the summer and fight for his place? Or should he be loaned out to boost his career? Would a return to Rangers help him rediscover his mojo? Could the Ibrox club afford it? One thing is for sure. He has some important decisions to make in the coming months. He can hardly afford to keep the bench warm for much longer.
Billy Gilmour would certainly be welcomed with open arms by the fans in Govan, would play at a decent level weekly, including in Europe, and would push his way back to the Scottish side if he performed well.
His country needs him, although Clarke has Jack and McTominay available. The attempt to reach the finals of Euro 2024 in Germany next summer has kind of started. But there is still work to be done, and there are sure to be setbacks along the way. He could still make a big difference for his country.
https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/23427944.rangers-loan-will-help-scotland-misfit-billy-gilmour-get-back-track/?ref=rss The Rangers loan will help Scottish outsider Billy Gilmour get back on track