Conor Gallagher has made the cut for England’s World Cup squad in Qatar, and his was one the names picked out for discussion from Gareth Southgate and the press after the announcement.
Southgate has to have reasons for picking each and every player in the group, and he was very clear on which qualities were leading him to conclude that Gallagher had to go to the World Cup.
“He’s fantastic at pressing the ball,” the England manager at a press conference shortly after naming his squad in quotes picked up by the Chelsea official website.
“There are going to be moments in these games where we need certain attributes and we feel he could be that sort of player.
“He’s not as experienced as some of the others but he has an impact in games and has a goal threat. When you look at midfielders you often ask, “do they stop goals, create goals or scores goals?” He does a lot of all of that.
“We were really pleased with how he responded to being left out of our squad and going with the Under-21s,” Southgate concluded.
Gallagher must be absolutely chuffed. He was very much a borderline case, having really impressed with Crystal Palace and then moved up a level with Chelsea – but then having been used less and with higher expectations.
A rocky start to the season with a red card and an early substitution made him feel like an outside bet to make it to Qatar, but injuries have mean regular appearances for him all over the pitch, and that versatility and enthusiasm, as well as his good personality, have clearly managed to forge a path back in.