In Focus: Billy the kid is coming of age with Brighton
Billy Gilmour is enjoying a superb start to the season in a new-look Brighton team.
The 22-year-old midfielder has started the Seagulls' last three Premier League matches, registering an assist in the 3-1 win over Newcastle before the international break.
After an indifferent 2022-23 campaign where he made only 14 top-flight appearances, the Scotland international is re-establishing himself as one of the hottest prospects in European football.
Ahead of the Tartan Army's international friendly against old foes England on Tuesday, we shine the spotlight on the diminutive lynchpin who looks destined to reach the top.
Brighton signed Gilmour from Chelsea on a four-year deal in September 2022 for a reported fee of just £9million.
The former Rangers academy star struggled for regular game time at Stamford Bridge after initially bursting onto the scene as a teenager in Frank Lampard's first reign as manager.
Gilmour received enormous praise for his dazzling display against Liverpool during an FA Cup tie in March 2020 but that was to be the highlight of his Blues career.
He spent the 2021-22 campaign on loan at Norwich before moving to the South Coast, where opportunities were few and far between to start with due to the presence of both Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister.
But after the South American pair's high-profile switches to Chelsea and Liverpool this summer, Gilmour has been afforded a new lease of life by Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi — which he has grabbed with both hands.
Making his mark
Gilmour's ability to combine elegance and combativeness has proved key to Brighton's positive start to the term, providing the perfect base for the more creative Pascal Gross to weave his magic.
The midfielder's performances have also seen summer arrival Mahmoud Dahoud — signed on a free from Borussia Dortmund — have to make to do with a place on the bench.
Gilmour ranks inside the Premier League's top 30 for passes completed, final third passes executed and passing accuracy.
And only James Milner has made more tackles than the Scotsman among Brighton midfielders.
De Zerbi praise
Gilmour's talent was made obvious last season when De Zerbi admitted his "mistake" at not handing the No11 more minutes.
After throwing him into the XI for the 6-0 win over Wolves in April, the Italian tactician remarked: "Gilmour was the best player on the pitch.
"After the game, I must admit possibly in the past I have made some mistakes with him because I did not give him the possibility to play."
Gilmour responded in typically-humble fashion, saying: "It's hard to fill Alexis and Moises' job but I just had to take my opportunity.
"I've studied them and what they do in my position."
Gilmour will look to continue his impressive form at Hampden Park on Tuesday after playing a key role in Scotland's 3-0 win over Cyprus last Friday — which has the Tartan Army looking comfortable in the race for Euro 2024 qualification.
The young talent already has 19 international caps to his name after making his debut under Steve Clarke in June 2021 — shortly after he was named in the Tartan Army's Euro 2020 squad.
Against a Three Lions midfield which looked lacklustre both in and out of possession in the 1-1 draw with Ukraine, Gilmour can really stamp his authority on the game and further cement his status as one of Scotland's most important players.