Former England international compares Chelsea youngster to De Bruyne
(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

20-year-old midfielder Conor Gallagher has made a name for himself in the Championship over the past two seasons with successful loan spells at Charlton and Swansea City.

The midifelder has mad 36 appearances in England's second division this season, scoring six goals and assisting nine.

Sky Sports' EFL pundits Keith Andrews and Andy Hinchcliffe were full of praise for the young man, but believe he may have to wait for his chance at Chelsea.

  • A place in the first team?

"This would not even have been a discussion at Chelsea 12 months ago," Andrews said when asked whether Gallagher has the potential to break into Frank Lampard's first team.

"It would have just been a case of him going back on loan again or they sell him for a decent profit.

"I think now is a different scenario with Frank Lampard in charge.

"I do not see him going back there next season, I see him going back on loan again.

"We spoke about Ben White before, 22-years-of-age, the development that he's had, the steps he has had to take to get to this level.

"He's still 20.

"I don't see any rush whatsoever in trying to get him into the Chelsea team.

"I think they will nurture him, I think they will use the loan market again, probably give him a longer contract, secure him long-term because if you do it again in a year's time, one or two of those centre-midfielders might have moved on and an opportunity may open up.

"That's assuming Lampard is still there, of course."

Hinchcliffe noted that Gallagher's future depends on Chelsea's plan. The Blues have been linked with Brazilian midfielder Phillippe Coutinho in recent weeks and his signature could push Gallagher further down the pecking order.

"Ultimately it will be about the Chelsea plan," Hinchcliffe said.

Lampard's in there and, for the moment, youth has been given its head.

You hear talk of Philippe Coutinho or more senior, experienced players going to Chelsea, but what Gallagher needs, if he's going to play for Chelsea for the next five or six years, is the opportunity."

"He might get it at the moment under Lampard but as seasons go by, finances change, Coutinho comes in, his path is going to be blocked and that might be the problem.

"No matter how good he is, there's always going to be a more experienced player that could play in his position.

"He might end up, if he wants to play in the Premier League, having to leave Chelsea to go elsewhere for regular first-team football."

  • "He has taken the Championship by storm"

Andrews praised the 20-year-old's ability to score goals from midfield and dismissed the notion that he needs to nail down one specific position.

"I probably do not think just yet because of how new first team football is to him," the pundit added.

"He is ahead of where he should be in his development.

"He has taken the Championship by storm and is now a household name at that level, so his next step is to probably nail down that position.

"When you can score goals like he has shown at that type of level, you have to play him further forward.

"When I look at what he brings to the game, his attributes, is he an out-and-out No 10?

"Probably not, for me, with his back to goal and playing in really tight areas.

"But the one thing he has got is a fantastic engine, much like Lee Bowyer or Frank Lampard - it's amazing, the resemblances between those two in their younger years particularly.

"What we are seeing in glimpses from Gallagher, he has to be given the licence to get forward and he times his run into the box so well.

"When he gets in there, he's got that composure in front of goal.

"But for me, he's a classic No 8; he has an unbelievable energy, he does the ugly side of the game, but you have to let him off the leash and let him get forward."

Hinchcliffe believes that Gallagher is best deployed as a No 8 with green grass to run into ahead of him and has compared him to one current Chelsea midfielder.

"I would compare him to someone like Ross Barkley.

"I remember at Everton speaking to some of the coaches.

"Barkley, like Gallagher, could do a bit of everything, but the last position they wanted him in was a No 10 with his back to goal.

"They wanted him with grass in front of him so that he can burst forward.

"You don't want him in confined areas, up against a defensive midfielder with his back to goal.

"You want the grass in front of him, ball at his feet, travelling with it because he's dynamic.

"Why would he play as a holding midfielder if he's dynamic?

"Probably a No 8 is his ultimate position and again, he might take two or three years to actually get there and play there regularly."

  • How De Bruyne's game can improve Gallagher    

Hinchcliffe also highlights Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne as a midfielder that Gallagher can identify with and believes the Belgian's success can act as a model for the Chelsea loanee.

"If you look at the development in Kevin De Bruyne's game, how dynamic he is now.

"People probably did not really notice that about him but he's playing in one of those wide-ish midfield positions and he can get on the ball on the edge of the box, or he can travel with the ball and he can cover the ground as well.

"He's developed his game.

"If I was Gallagher, I would be looking at De Bruyne saying if I could model my game on that then I would not be far off being a top professional.

"The most impressive thing with Gallagher, this is his first loan move.

"You are looking at attitude and application.

"Do you really want to be here or are we just a stepping-stone for you?

"And you can tell, pretty much, before they even step on the training pitch.

"You can tell by the way they move."