By George Overhill

17th Apr, 2022 | 3:32pm

Norwich loan just about a success for Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour amid trying season

Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour’s loan to Norwich has proven belatedly to be worthwhile, despite the Canaries’ likely relegation from the Premier League

The Norfolk side are currently bottom of the table and odds on to drop back into the Championship once again, but the young Scotland player has proven he has ability under Dean Smith, having struggled to keep his place under predecessor Daniel Farke.

Having burst onto the scene for Frank Lampard at Chelsea two seasons ago with man of the match performances against Liverpool and Everton in his first appearances, he was unable to force his way into Thomas Tuchel’s plans once the former midfielder was sacked.

He decided to go on loan in search of first-team football, and newly-promoted Norwich was the destination. But after a brutal re-introduction to the league where consecutive games against Liverpool and Manchester City sparked a run of six-straight defeats, the 20-year-old soon fell out of favour.

Perhaps Farke like his compatriot Tuchel felt that the diminutive passer was too light-weight when the side’s back was already against the wall.

But the manager saw his quality, having said in October (via Norfolk Live) “if you love football then you love Billy Gilmour”.

Following the sacking of Farke and the appointment of former Aston Villa boss Smith however, he has become a mainstay in the team, with the Englishman saying (via Norfolk Live): “As a lad, his attitude and application is second to none.”

Aside from three games missed an an ankle injury, and being kept from facing his parent club by league rules, he has only missed a single game – the win against Burnley (10 April).

The fact that this victory contributed to the team’s record without him being better than with him has somewhat divided fans of the club, with The Athletic recently looking at why Smith thinks so highly of him despite this.

 

But his run in the team has allowed him the development that he sought when he left Stamford Bridge, and with the status of the European Champions still up in the air following the sanctions on Roman Abramovich, and the sale of the club not yet complete, he could be set for a bigger role back in west London.

He has been unable to keep his current side in the Premier League, barring something incredible, but he has shown that he can feature week-in week-out, while also adding two more international caps last month for Steve Clarke.

As such he was recently named inside the top 50 best-performing outfield players Europe by the Football Observatory, at number 49.

It hasn’t been all plain sailing this season, but the young Scot has shown enough to suggest he has a future at Stamford Bridge, even if not everyone around Carrow Road would agree.