Conor Gallagher out to prove a point in new Chelsea role ahead of Euro 2024

Conor Gallagher has been handed an audition in the No6 role, as he bids to convince Chelsea of his worth and nail down a spot in the England team for the Euros.

The 24-year-old will again play in a deeper midfield position for Chelsea when Tottenham visit Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Mauricio Pochettino will start Gallagher alongside Moises Caicedo after Enzo Fernandez had surgery on a persistent groin injury that has ruled him out for the season.

That new double pivot has delivered improved performances for Chelsea. Gallagher and Caicedo worked well together at Aston Villa on Saturday, having previously been paired in the 6-0 win over Everton.

Gallagher was involved in both goals at Villa Park. His pressing led to Noni Madueke’s opener and he curled in a brilliant equaliser with his weaker left foot as Chelsea battled back from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw.

Pochettino may have stumbled upon a winning formula in Gallagher and Caicedo, who are his last two defensive midfield options.

Romeo Lavia is also out for the season and Lesley Ugochukwu has been injured since December.

“Conor is like a machine,” said Caicedo this week. “I like to play with him because he has different characteristics. Enzo is a more offensive player and Conor is more defensive. He helps me a lot when we need to recover the ball back.”

For Gallagher, the move from the No10 position to No6 has come at the perfect time.

He has been given a chance to show his abilities as Gareth Southgate weighs up a partner for Declan Rice at the base of the England midfield at the Euros this summer.

Rice is an automatic starter, but his long-term playing partner, Kalvin Phillips, has seen his career stagnate after 18 months on the bench at Manchester City and then his loan at West Ham, in which he has not started a game for almost two months.

There are also doubts over Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Crystal Palace’s Adam Wharton has shone since his January move to Selhurst Park and is a wildcard option, while Southgate appears to have discarded the idea of Jude Bellingham dropping deeper.

That all leaves the door wide open for Gallagher and Manchester United wonderkid Kobbie Mainoo to fight it out over that last midfield spot.

For Gallagher, the Euros is likely to be the most enjoyable part of what looks set to be a difficult summer.

Gallagher could have a chance to partner Declan Rice for England at Euro 2024 (The FA via Getty Images)
Gallagher could have a chance to partner Declan Rice for England at Euro 2024 (The FA via Getty Images)

With just one year left on his Chelsea contract, there has been little movement on a new deal.

Chelsea are believed to be ready to sell Gallagher for £50million. They need to sell academy graduates for ‘pure profit’ to help fund further transfer spending.

Ideally, Chelsea would like to sell Gallagher or other high-value academy stars such as Trevoh Chalobah, Ian Maatsen or Armando Broja before June 30, so that the deals can be included in their 2024-25 accounts.

Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou will try to unsettle Gallagher on Thursday, but is driving his club’s interest in him. West Ham and Newcastle are also among the clubs monitoring his situation.

Gallagher, a Chelsea supporter, is happy at Stamford Bridge and has been a key player under Pochettino this season, making 45 appearances so far.

But he could be left with a tough decision to further his career.

The final five games of the season are also a chance to show potential suitors what he can do.