Billy Gilmour's emotional intelligence can see him succeed at Chelsea, says Scot Gemmill
By Charles Paterson
Last Updated: 09/10/19 6:41am
Scot Gemmill thinks Billy Gilmour's "emotional intelligence" is helping him flourish at Chelsea - but says Scotland fans must wait before seeing the midfielder become part of Steve Clarke's full international squad.
Gilmour had been tipped for a first Scotland call-up for this week's double-header against Russia and San Marino after making his first-team debut at Stamford Bridge in August, but instead the 18-year old will feature for Gemmill's U21 side against Lithuania on Thursday and the Czech Republic next Monday.
"He is obviously improving all the time," said Gemmill. "If you train and play with better players then it raises your game, but the thing with Billy is if you speak to anyone who has worked with him, they are equally impressed with him off the pitch as well as on it. His emotional intelligence; to be able to handle everything.
"He needs to continue to show he can handle it, and that his performances continue to improve. He's obviously playing for a great club, his manager's got confidence in him, everything is there - but we've got a big responsibility to help him."
Scotland's hopes of reaching Euro 2020 now rest with the Nations League playoffs next spring, and Clarke has admitted he is building towards those matches. However, last week he said he felt Gilmour and other young Scottish prospects needed "time to grow and develop".
Gemmill has echoed these thoughts - but also appreciates there could be exceptions to this within his U21 squad, who sit joint top of their Euro 2021 qualifying group.
He said: "We've got a huge responsibility for them to maximise their potential. There are different pathways for different players; some will get their opportunity because there's a need through injury or suspension, and some will get their opportunity through fast-track and because they are pushing so hard that their performance merits the opportunity.
"From the last U21 campaign, there were, I think, nine players who went on to make their debuts for Scotland, so it's great for everyone to see that there's an opportunity to go all the way to the full squad."
Another player name-checked by Clarke for future promotion was Hibernian defender Ryan Porteous, who already looks up to Gilmour despite being two years older than him.
"Billy has unbelievable ability. I remember playing against him when he was at Rangers, aged only 15 or 16, and he absolutely terrorised us all game," said Porteous.
"He is young, but he is a role model for us, and he's a really good professional as well. It was bit surreal to be turning on the TV and seeing Billy running about at Stamford Bridge. He is a great player and he's obviously going to learn a lot at Chelsea; playing in the Premier League at that age is a great achievement.
"I think you've got to focus on getting experience at international level before you make that step up. Those of us who have been name-checked like Billy want to be playing international football - not sitting on the bench or not making the squad. If he gets two games here this week against Lithuania or the Czech Republic, it's better than making the bench for the A squad.
"Whenever you first get called up, you don't feel like you're ready, but you've got to trust the coaches and believe in yourself and your own ability. If it does happen to anyone in this squad I imagine we will be ready, and then it's just about getting that opportunity and taking it when it comes."