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Gareth Southgate praises ‘slower burner’ Conor Gallagher

Dedication and drive

England v Malta: Group C - UEFA EURO 2024 European Qualifiers Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Calling Conor Gallagher a bit of a late-bloomer seems disingenuous at best, considering that he had been capped at every level since the under-17s, but perhaps Gareth Southgate was just falling back on some classic cliches when asked about the Chelsea midfielder’s rise at both club and international levels.

“His journey is really interesting, because with some of our players who have come into the squad young, their talent has been obvious and you would probably have picked them up at 15, 16 or 17. But Conor is perhaps a slower burner in terms of how external people might have viewed him.

“He has got tremendous drive.”

Speaking of cliches: hard work beats talent.

“This week is a classic for me. He has come with a bit of a knock from the weekend, but he walked through the door saying, ‘It is a bit sore, but I will be fine for Friday’. There was no way he was going home, there was no way he wasn’t going to give himself every chance.

“He wasn’t able to train for the first few days, but he was determined he would be available — and that, in a nutshell, is what is going to be one of his greatest strengths which will allow himself to achieve everything he might in the game. His mentality is outstanding.”

-Gareth Southgate; source: Evening Standard

That certainly sounds praiseworthy, though I’m not too enthused about every aspect of it.

Southgate may be delighted, but Gallagher not being able to train for several days but then still playing the first half against Malta last night in an ultimately meaningless encounter is not exactly a healthy proposition — for Gallagher himself as well as anyone else in the squad, or wanting to be in the squad.

Southgate didn’t sound too happy when Reece James opted out due to fitness concerns, and he hasn’t even so much as looked Raheem Sterling’s way since our winger did the same last season. Players shouldn’t have to feel that they have to sacrifice their health to be considered for the team, especially when it’s just a random pseudo-competitive match in a random November.

Be careful, Conor.

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