World Cup hopeful Conor Gallagher will get plenty of chances to impress Gareth Southgate in October, promised new Chelsea boss Graham Potter.
The midfielder earned his first England call-up after a standout campaign on loan with Palace last season but did not feature in Southgate’s most recent squad, and had played just 157 minutes across five Premier League appearances ahead of Saturday’s 2-1 victory over his former club.
Gallagher took full advantage of his 76th-minute introduction as a substitute, curling in a dramatic 90th-minute winner to hand Potter his first three Premier League points in charge of the Blues.
“We’ve got a really intense period coming up,” said Potter. “We’ve got 12 games in six and a half weeks so we need everybody. It’s impossible to play with 11 players, so Conor will get his time, he’ll get his chances, he’ll get opportunities to perform.
“Like I said, we have to try to help the team perform in a good way that all individuals can play well, and then England, that’s something out of my control.”
Chelsea will host Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday, the first of their dozen matches before the World Cup break, then will take on Wolves in the Premier League.
Gallagher said scoring on Saturday had restored his confidence, something that had waned as he tried to carve out his place at Stamford Bridge.
His new manager had every faith the 22-year-old would forge an impressive identity with Chelsea, who moved into fifth place at Saturday’s close.
“I really like him,” said Potter, who is still getting to know his players after just two games in charge. “He’s fantastic. First of all, he just gives everything every day, desperate to do well, desperate to play for Chelsea, desperate to be successful here, so that’s a great starting point.
“And then it’s about finding the right balance for him to play in the team, for the team to perform maximally, that helps all the players but in terms of Conor as a person he’s been A1.”
Gallagher scored eight goals and picked up three assists across 34 Premier League appearances for Palace last season, earning his first England call-up in November.
He was even linked with a move back to Palace before September’s transfer window closed, with many thinking it would be his best chance to get back on Southgate’s radar.
The former Eagle received warm applause when his name was announced at Selhurst Park on Saturday, many of the Palace faithful even staying to clap Gallagher off the pitch after his deadly strike.
That did not surprise Eagles boss Patrick Vieira, who was demonstrably frustrated by the goal but had only praise for the man who scored it.
“He just deserves it,” he said. “That just showed the type of fans that we have in our football club. He had a really good season when he was with us last year.
“And this is the way that we and the fans show appreciation for what he did with us. Of course it’s a good goal, but we shouldn’t concede. We shouldn’t have allowed him to take that chance because we had enough people around the ball to stop him.”