Football

Chelsea’s Gallagher learning through hard times and ‘dirty work’ at West Brom and with England U-21s

The Blues midfielder has had to get used to being out of possession and losing more this season than he has in the previous parts of his career

Conor Gallagher is trying to learn from difficult moments with England Under-21s and West Brom, having become used to winning in Chelsea’s academy.

The 21-year-old midfielder is currently likely to suffer relegation from the Premier League this season. Meanwhile, England have been poor at the U21 European Championship in Slovenia, having suffered two defeats already to Portugal and Switzerland.

Still, Gallagher believes that handling defeats is part of football in his bid to reach the highest level for club and country.

What did Gallagher have to say?

“Everyone throughout their careers has a lot of tough moments,” he said. “You experience losing and things like that and you improve. We as young players, no matter what, will get experience from it.

“I was excited to play in the Premier League after a step up from Championship last season. I’ve loved every minute of it. Hopefully I’ll keep developing and improving. It’s been a tough season for West Brom so far, so doing the dirty side of the game, the importance of work off the ball [is important].

“Premier League quality will punish you if you switch off, so you need to be concentrated and focused. I know people have other views on players going on loan and I’ve been at three different teams, but it’s three different experiences and teams with [different] styles, different managers and players.

“I’ve learnt a lot already in two years. Hopefully I can continue to learn as a player.”

What’s his situation for club and country?

Chelsea regard Gallagher highly and he remains one of the frontrunners to return from the loan group and move into Thomas Tuchel’s squad next season.

However, there’s a lot of talent in west London, particularly in central midfield, which could block his pathway. Crystal Palace are reportedly interested in Gallagher, but they would have to negotiate a good fee as he is contracted to Chelsea until 2025.

Gallagher has only made one substitute appearance for England at the U21 European Championship but is expected to be starting the final group match on Wednesday evening. He spoke about his under-fire coach Aidy Boothroyd and about their efforts to qualify for the knock-out round.

“We always want to win; we have the talent in the group to win,” he said. “Tournaments don’t always go well even for the best teams in the world, but we definitely have the talent. A lot of English boys have proven it already, moving up to the senior team, which is great to see.

“It’s the pathway. They go on about it from an early age of youth teams; they talk about the pathway. That’s all they want to get into us. If you keep working hard and doing well, there’s a good chance of getting into the senior team. We’ve seen the young players go through.

“It would mean a lot for the players and the staff after all the work we have done to get through. The players who are here have done well this season so they deserve to be here. It is going to hurt for us if we don’t get through.”

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