Chelsea are beginning to make a habit of fine tuning the future of British football, as showcased by their latest line of lucrative talent. Step forward, Billy Gilmour.
At just 18, the flying Scotsman has already mastered two sets of Merseyside midfields, outshining senior opponents in victories against Liverpool and Everton; on this evidence, it would be difficult for Frank Lampard to displace him from his starting XI.
The enforced break in Premier League action may have come at just the wrong time for the glamourous Gilmour gem, yet its certain we will be close to the action when it does return, to the delight of the Blues faithful.
Glimmers of Gilmour
Understandably all the attention will have been directed on Gilmour’s glittering displays against Liverpool and Everton, however his debut had already been made earlier in the campaign.
Lampard brought the youngster on for the final flurry against Sheffield United last August, a 2-2 draw in which Chelsea let a two-goal advantage slip. This was almost the ideal circumstance to understand the high intense nature of the Premier League, and the elite level of performance it takes to see a game through to the bitter end.
Having been brought up in Glasgow and signed from Rangers in 2017, Gilmour had no problem with the determination side of the job; what pleasantly surprised everyone was his technical ability and maturity beyond his young years.
He effortlessly evaded the likes of Fabinho and Adam Lallana in the 2-0 FA Cup victory over the league leaders, repeating this feet five days later against Andre Gomes and Tom Davies in the 4-0 romp over the Toffees.
Every pass found its intended target, and every pocket of space he drifted into opened up areas for his team mates; simple but highly effective, it was evidence enough Gilmour had engrained himself into Lampard's style of play within a fortnight.
No N'golo, no problem
Chelsea's injury list has been longer than many since the turn of the season, landing Lampard with all sorts of dilemmas in terms of team selection.
No more so than in midfield, where World Cup winner N'Golo Kante has been missing for the majority through various ankle and muscle problems, adding Ruben Loftus-Cheek as another long-term absentee. More recently, and perhaps more prominently, is the loss of Mateo Kovacic as the Croat suffered an Achilles injury and was forced to be withdraw against Liverpool.
In the victory against Everton, Chelsea lined up with Gilmour, Ross Barkley and Mason Mount as the trio in the middle of the park; on paper, as inexperienced as they get in the top flight, yet the three operated fantastically, all sticking to their individual roles and completely dominated the duo sent out by Carlo Ancelotti.
The return date for Lampard's missing men has not been confirmed, but it seems he has more than enough to compete, particularly if Gilmour continues his rich vein of form.
Much like Jorginho, he enjoys dictating play from deep, collecting from the centre backs in the pocket between defence and midfield. Much like Kovacic, he can play the pass between the lines into the front men and much like Kante, he can cover box to box thanks to his stamina and work rate. In essence, he is all three of the Blues superstars rolled into one.
Just to highlight his progression: against Everton, no player on either side made more passes (90) than the Scottish international, earning a passing accuracy of 91.3%.
Billy the Kid
Much has been praised about Lampard's approach to youth and the trust he has placed upon them during his first spell as Blues boss, giving great optimism towards Gilmour's future at Stamford Bridge.
In the short term at least, it appears he'll gain decent minutes; Chelsea's next three fixtures include West Ham, Watford and Crystal Palace, all are extremely winnable, providing a suitable platform for the teenager to showcase his talent once again.
He will also be benefitted by the build-up of matches towards the tail end of the campaign, with Chelsea continuing to battle in the league, FA Cup and Champions League, if the suitable governing bodies give the go ahead for them to be contested.
This will likely mean Lampard relies heavily on the youthful exuberance of Gilmour to be fresh for a handful of games in a row, but should hopefully have resources available to allow him a rest as to not burn him out too quickly.
It also does not appear likely he will be sent out on loan, as so many of at Chelsea have done before him, even handed a four-year contract in September to acquire the Scotsman's services for a little while longer.