Jody Morris, Chelsea
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Jody Morris salutes Conor Gallagher, but says future may be away from Stamford Bridge

| 12.04.2022

Jody Morris spent seven seasons with Chelsea as a player and six as a coach with the academy and then as assistant to Frank Lampard.

Ahead of the launch of Ladbrokes’ 5-A-Side bet on Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Wembley, the former midfielder spoke exclusively to us about Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount and Lampard.

Conor Gallagher will have plenty of top teams monitoring his situation in the summer

Conor Gallagher is certainly up there as far as Young Player of the Season is concerned. His performances – not only this season at Crystal Palace, but also at Swansea and West Brom in particular – have been unbelievable. He’s been a top-drawer performer for nearly three years, and he’s taken to the Premier League like it’s nothing.

The energy that he gives, the fact that he’s chipping in with goals, and how at home he looks on an international stage, there’s no reason why Chelsea shouldn’t be looking at bringing him into the starting line-up next season.

Frank Lampard, Jody Morris, Chelsea

I hope they bring him in with the intention of playing him, though, Don’t just bring him back and keep hold of him to play him for 10 or 15 games – you’ve got to look to the future. A lot of Chelsea fans won’t like me saying this, but if you’re Conor Gallagher and you’re looking at your future, you’re thinking ‘no one is guaranteed to play week in, week out at Chelsea’.

Conor would want to know that the manager believes in him and is willing to give him an opportunity to showcase his talent in the first team. And, let me tell you, there would be a lot of takers, and I’m talking about serious takers throughout Europe, who’ll be keeping an eye on his situation. He’s certainly put himself in the shop window.

He could be like a massive summer signing for Chelsea when he returns to the club at the end of the season. You only have to look at what happened to Mason Mount and his career when he came back from Derby. Tammy Abraham produced as well. There’s really no reason why clubs shouldn’t be giving these players a real opportunity, regardless of whether you’re a top four club or not.

The prospect of Gallagher and Mount linking up isn’t just good news for Chelsea, it’s great for England fans too

Match-going supporters, the fans who will be at the stadium, following the team up and down the country, would rather see a homegrown player come through the ranks and perform to the level Chelsea expect, rather than a new signing coming in.

On the one hand you’ve got fans who will be desperate to see Conor Gallagher given an opportunity, but it’s then up to the player himself to take it. He’s old enough and mature enough to know he won’t be handed anything on a plate at Chelsea. But, knowing Conor, if he were given an opportunity at the club, he’d take it with both hands and prove to everybody what a top, top player he is.

He’s a tenacious player, and he’s one who maybe walks a tightrope at times on the disciplinary front. But you wouldn’t want to take that part of his game away from him. Yes, he’ll pick up yellow cards and he’ll get the odd ban here and there, but you wouldn’t want to take that out of his game because his regain and possession numbers are so good. He sets the tone for the rest of the team. I’ve seen it in the teams he used to play for me.

Mason Mount does a similar job for Chelsea now, and it certainly does whet your appetite when you start thinking about the prospect of a Gallagher and Mount partnership in midfield, not just from a Chelsea perspective, but from an England one too.

The pair of them have so much energy and quality between them. You’ll always have players who give you one or the other, but to have a couple, both young, both English, who offer so much energy and quality, is very, very exciting. Both of those lads have quality and class on the ball. Not only have they got the ability to create chances on a regular basis for their team-mates, but they’re always right in among the goals themselves, too.

I see a lot of similarities between Gallagher and Lampard

You see a lot of comparisons between Conor and Lamps and I get it. I’d say Conor is a little bit more energetic in as much as putting himself about the pitch. He’s certainly not more energetic than Frank – although I don’t think many ever were – in terms of arriving in the box. He was just an absolute machine, and when you had the pure class he possessed to convert those chances, and the ability to have such an impact on games in terms of goals scored from midfield, I don’t think anyone can match Frank for that. He’s the greatest goalscoring midfielder of all time.

But as far as starting the press off and getting on the ball high up the pitch goes, Conor has got the upper hand on someone like a Frank. He’s similar to a Mason to be honest, I do think they’re both similar. They can both play slightly higher than a number eight, and can both comfortably slot into that role as well. Players who possess the levels of energy of those boys, as well as the tactical nous, are so vital in this day and age. Patrick Vieira has made the most of that type of player in Conor Gallagher, as has Thomas Tuchel with Mason.

I’m gutted Gallagher will miss out this weekend

I can’t see Crystal Palace beating Chelsea this weekend, to be honest – especially when Conor isn’t allowed to play, which is such a shame, by the way. I think Patrick Vieira said in the week that this was exactly the reason why players like Conor go on these loans, to get away and experience these types of games. And when you’ve been so pivotal in a team’s success in the way that Conor has been for Palace, you can’t help but think it’s a real shame he won’t play a part on Sunday.

We were lucky when me and Frank were at Derby, because we played against Chelsea and they allowed us to play Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori because they felt it was great for their development. I mean, we won’t talk about Tomori’s own goal in that game, but anyway!

It’s such a shame Conor won’t be able to play for Palace, and I’m absolutely gutted for him as a lad, because he deserves to be playing on the big stage. But that only strengthens Chelsea’s chances of making the final; you can’t look past them at Wembley.

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Alex Apati

Alex has been with the Ladbrokes PR team since 2017 having previously worked for the news department. From sparring with Peter Fury to talking interviews on the Duke and Duchess' baby names, he's covered a range of sports and novelty events.

A frustrated West Brom fan who is no stranger to an oche, Alex is originally from Dudley, although he's worked hard to rid himself of the Black Country twang.