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Billy Gilmour must start for Scotland against England

Tom Gott
Billy Gilmour is ready to start against England
Billy Gilmour is ready to start against England / Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Scotland came into Euro 2020 with some optimism that this summer might not be so bad, but all that faded on Monday.

Steve Clarke's men gave a solid account of themselves against the Czech Republic but found themselves lacking that extra je ne sais quoi that you need in the top tournaments. There was some sloppy finishing and some woeful defending, but one of the biggest issues came in midfield.

The trio of Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Stuart Armstrong definitely sounds like it should be impressive, but they couldn't get anything going against the Czechs. There was no drive, no creativity and no progression, and Scotland looked lifeless because of it.

It almost seemed as though Clarke didn't register that. He threw on attacker after attacker in search of a goal, all while leaving Billy Gilmour - the man who could have actually put all the pieces together - sat on the bench.

It was a mistake from the boss not to select Gilmour against the Czech Republic, but that error cannot be repeated against England. A defeat could be fatal to both Scotland's Euro 2020 hopes and the pride of the entire nation.

Billy Gilmour
Gilmour has proven his quality at Chelsea / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Gilmour can provide something that the rest of Scotland's midfield lacks. His willingness to receive the ball from the centre-backs links up the two lines of the team, and his vision and creativity allow him to get things moving forward quickly.

He may be 20 years old, but this is a young player who is riding the wave of winning the Champions League with Chelsea and shining in a 90-minute league performance against Manchester City. He's fearless and loves the kind of big stage that Scotland's meetings with England always provide.

You only have to look back at his 30 minutes against Luxembourg for the evidence of what he can bring to the team. Sure, Luxembourg and England aren't quite the same team, but Gilmour brought a sense of calm and control to the midfield, and he had Scotland playing the way fans have always wanted them to.

It's time for Clarke to stop blindly supporting his experienced players and give the new generation a chance. Gilmour should have started against the Czechs, as should 19-year-old Rangers' right-back Nathan Patterson, and let's not even talk about the fact that Ryan Gauld is sat at home watching this all unfold on TV. Nine goals and seven assists in Portugal's top tier is clearly not good enough for Clarke.

Steve Clarke
Clarke's loyalty could cost him / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

It almost feels as though there needs to be a culture change in the Scotland setup, and what better time to address that than against England at the European Championship?

Gilmour is the epitome of everything Scotland lacked in the first game. He's hungry and he's not intimidated, but most importantly, he's actually good enough to make the difference on the biggest stage.

Beating England is obviously going to be a tough task, but Clarke needs to give his side the best chance of doing that, and he can do that by playing hungry youngsters like Gilmour.

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