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Euro 2020 showed Billy Gilmour's future is brighter than ever

Robbie Copeland
Gilmour only played once at Euro 2020 but made quite the mark
Gilmour only played once at Euro 2020 but made quite the mark / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
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Would Scotland have beaten Croatia if Billy Gilmour had been available?

Probably not.

The gap in quality between Steve Clarke's team and the 2018 World Cup finalists was exposed in brutally clear terms at Hampden, as the Scots' Euro 2020 dreams were extinguished alongside the illusion that Luka Modric is over the hill.

But would they have had a better chance of at least making a game of it with Gilmour in the side?

Absolutely.

After the heroic performance at Wembley that saw Scotland match up to the Auld Enemy and restore some hope, Clarke opted to make just one change for Croatia's trip to Glasgow. It was the enforced one: out went COVID-positive Gilmour, and in came Stuart Armstrong.

On the face of it, you wouldn't have thought the drop-off in quality would have been too much to handle. Armstrong, after all, is a Premier League regular with Southampton, and outside of the elite sides at this summer's Euros, he would be a fixture in most squads.

But after winning the midfield battle against England and limiting the likes of Mason Mount and Phil Foden to scraps, the Scots found themselves overrun against Croatia, who cut through the middle of the park like a hot knife through butter.

A large part of that can be attributed to the unplayable Modric, who, let's face it, is still miles better than anything England have in the engine room. He was out with a point to prove and barely put a foot wrong as his side coasted into the round of 16.

But equally, the absence of Gilmour's composure and control on the ball meant a repeat performance from Wembley was next to impossible.

The 20-year-old has only played 115 minutes for his country in total, but the 76 of those that came in London on Friday evening have asserted him as one of the first names on the teamsheet when his country return to action against Denmark on 1 September.

That's not an easy thing to do in the Scotland midfield. With Callum McGregor, John McGinn and Ryan Jack seemingly guaranteed to start when everyone is fit and well, younger players typically have to wait in line. But in just one start at Euro 2020, Gilmour seized the initiative, made his mark, and gave Clarke one of those headaches managers love to have.

A month ago, it seemed like Gilmour might not even make the 26. But it's now a case of how to build around him, rather than how to fit him in.

Obviously it was a tournament of mixed emotions for the Chelsea starlet. He experienced one of the highs of his career at Wembley, before he was grounded just as it seemed he was set to take off into the stratosphere.

But when the dust settles, we'll see that Gilmour's experience at Euro 2020 was another step on the ladder to greatness he seems destined to climb.

He's already a Champions League winner, and he has already starred for his country at a major tournament. Should a proposed loan to Norwich go through, he will be a Premier League regular next season.

Aged just 20, there is plenty more where that came from.


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