Billy Gilmour’s first bit of real action in over four months was over in less than 10 minutes. Fortunately, the early exit had nothing to do with his knee injury and surgery, and everything to do with a bit of headrush, both from him and the referee.
Arriving as a substitute on the hour mark for Scotland U21 against Croatia, the 19-year-old was called for a foul in midfield on 63 minutes. It was probably a harsh call, but the shoulder barge was strong enough to be right on the limit in the modern game. Seen them called before, as one might say.
Possibly the strangest straight red card I’ve ever seen for Billy Gilmour today.— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) November 12, 2020
Nevertheless, very happy to see him back out there. Will be big for us in midfield now he’s fully fit. pic.twitter.com/GtuPJwcylL
Gilmour clearly disagreed with the call, and let the referee know in what was probably some fine local Glaswegian color. (Though the match was played in Edinburgh, if we want to get technical about it.) The referee reacted to that bit of heat with a straight red because absolute power corrupts absolutely.
So that was unfortunate, but at least Gilmour looks primed for action already! (And maybe for Euro 2020 next summer after Scotland’s qualification yesterday, even?)
Speaking of red cards for dissent, Reece James got to play in England’s friendly against Republic of Ireland yesterday because his two-match ban from the last international window only counts for competitive fixtures. Mason Mount also started and took a lot of corners as the Three Lions ran out 3-0 winners, while Tammy Abraham got a half an hour or so at the end. Ben Chilwell chilled on the bench throughout.
Staying with the Home Nations, we had a scoreless friendly draw over in Swansea between Wales and the USA, which did not feature either Ethan Ampadu (rested on the bench) or Christian Pulisic (back at Cobham for injury rehab), but did see a full 90 from Matt Miazga, who’s currently learning from Vincent Kompany at RSC Anderlecht.
In games that matter a bit more, we had a 2-0 win for Ghana against Sudan in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, and more impressively, that game featured a certain Baba Rahman in his first competitive action since January. Baba was called up on the strength of his Chelsea Reserves performances, and hopefully he can leverage those into a (loan) move in January as well.
Lastly, in not Chelsea-related news, my motherlands of Slovakia and Hungary have both qualified for Euro 2020 with most exciting victories yesterday. Slovakia beat Northern Ireland in extra time — with fans in the stands! — while Hungary scored twice in the last three minutes to beat Iceland, 2-1. The winning goal was scored by future superstar Dominik Szoboszlai, currently of RB Salzburg, whom we should definitely sign.