Teen sensation Billy Gilmour has vowed to prove he is not just along for the ride at Chelsea.
The 18-year-old has won two man-of-the-match awards in the space of a week, dominating both the 2-0 FA Cup win over Liverpool and the 4-0 thumping of Everton.
Gilmour set the tone for Chelsea’s rout of the Toffees on Sunday in his first Premier League start, and later insisted he is only just getting started.
“It’s a bit surreal still, coming on and playing with top players,” said Gilmour.
“But this is something I’ve been dreaming of, and when I go out there I need to show that I’m not just a passenger, I need to be there and do something different to keep my position in the team.
“But the boys have been brilliant with me, Toni Rudiger has been brilliant with me, Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta) has been brilliant, they are always talking all the time and giving me loads of confidence in training and games.
“That’s something you always need as a young player, that confidence. If you don’t have that confidence you’re not going to play well, you’re going to be a bit under pressure, be a bit naive.
“But I loved it and the first-team boys do really well with the youngsters.”
Frank Lampard has now handed out a club-record eight debuts to academy products at Stamford Bridge this season.
Striker Armando Broja’s late cameo off the bench against Everton meant Lampard surpassed the seven debuts dished out by Ted Drake in the 1956-57 season.
Tino Anjorin was another young buck to feature against Everton and the winger is among that record eight-strong contingent.
Mason Mount, Reece James, Marc Guehi, Tariq Lamptey and Ian Maatsen are the others to enjoy first-team debuts under Lampard, while Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori have established themselves as first-team regulars.
Ex-Rangers youth star Gilmour acknowledges the trust of Lampard and his coaching staff is helping usher the young talent through the Stamford Bridge ranks.
“I talk about trust all the time from the gaffer, and that just shows how much trust he has in the youth players when they come down to train and you can take your opportunities,” Gilmour told Chelsea’s official club website.
“And you’ve seen when they came on they’ve done well. Overall it was a good performance and a great result for Chelsea.
“The gaffer, Jody (Morris, assistant head coach) and Joe Edwards (assistant coach) are all brilliant with me.
“I’ve had Joe and Jody through the youth, so they know a lot about me if I’m having a good or a bad day. So there’s always loads of comments and telling me what to do.
“They’ve been there and done it, and done everything, so when you’re going out to play that’s a real confidence as well, knowing they have that trust in you to go and play that style of play, get on the ball and do what you’re good at.”
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti was left to sift through the rubble of a wretched first return to former club Chelsea, but quickly insisted the Toffees can still qualify for the Europa League.
“We think we can compete to fight for Europe for next season,” said Ancelotti.
“We are still there, but of course with this kind of performance we have to forget it. But I think we can come back and show fighting spirit and good football.”