Chelsea academy star can be revived by Dean Smith repeating Aston Villa midfield trick – Daniel Childs


After a brief period of rumours over Frank Lampard taking over at Carrow Road, Dean Smith has been confirmed as the man to replace Daniel Farke after the 50-year-old was dismissed by Aston Villa before the international break.

Naturally, for Chelsea supporters, this appointment concerns the future of Billy Gilmour, whose loan at Norwich so far this season has not gone to plan.

Farke’s final few weeks at the club saw the young midfielder on the bench whilst the Canaries struggled for points, only securing their first win of the season away to Brentford in Farke’s last game, where Gilmour was an unused substitute.

Thomas Tuchel expressed concern over Gilmour’s lack of minutes recently, urging the 20-year-old to fight for his place in Norwich’s starting eleven if he has hopes of returning to Stamford Bridge in the future.

“We will take the decision in January when a decision has to be made and not now.” Tuchel said before Chelsea’s Champions League win over Malmo.

“In general, I spoke with Daniel [Farke] about it and was happy to meet Billy around the match at Stamford Bridge. The things were clear when we decided together that he is looking for more minutes and more game time at another club, the challenge was clear, that he needs to fight his way through and this is where he is right now.”

The hope for Gilmour this season was a consistent run of regular minutes in England’s top tier with a club whose playing style suited the Scottish midfielder’s skillset. Unfortunately with Norwich’s dismal start to the campaign and Farke coming under increased pressure meant a more defensive setup and Gilmour was sacrificed in the process.

Smith’s arrival not only gives Norwich new hope this season can be more than just a write-off but also gives Gilmour a fresh chance to kickstart a loan which can be beneficial to his development.

Dean Smith has already had joy from utilising one of Gilmour’s international teammates in John McGinn at Aston Villa.



Billy Gilmour has only made four appearances for Norwich since joining the club on loan from Chelsea
Billy Gilmour has only made four appearances for Norwich since joining the club on loan from Chelsea

The 27-year-old was bought from Hibernian two months before Smith took over from Steve Bruce in the dugout for the 2018/19 campaign where he got Aston Villa promoted back to the Premier League.

Soon McGinn became an essential part of Smith’s hard-working midfield, usually part of a three-man central trio alongside Conor Hourihane and Jack Grealish. Making 32 appearances in that campaign, leading to McGinn’s heroic Play-Off Final goal against Derby which effectively took Villa back to the top flight.

McGinn has proved his usefulness as an energetic and combative presence to win the ball back and start attacks. Although Gilmour’s overall demeanour and style may lend itself to a deeper position as played at Chelsea. There could be room for Smith to see Gilmour fulfil a similar duty in the centre of Norwich’s system if Smith decides to stick with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation.

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In the final weeks of his time at Aston Villa, McGinn was taking up a role alongside Douglas Luiz in a central pivot, so looking at the current Norwich squad who were fielded in Smith’s preferred formation last time out against Brentford, where Mathias Normann started with Kenny McLean. So Gilmour could be quickly inserted with Normann in the opening weeks of Smith’s tenure, which feels like the most obvious route to go down.

Given the growing reputation of Gilmour across European football with standout performances for Chelsea and his nation, it should only be a matter of time before he’s playing regularly again, and it is not far fetched to believe an experienced coach like Smith will see the benefit in unleashing Gilmour’s full talent which Farke inexplicably didn’t.

Follow our CareFreeChelsea writer Daniel Childs on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section.





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