Pochettino finally gives verdict on Conor Gallagher amid latest transfer uncertainty
The Blues boss praised his stand-in captain ahead of a crucial semi-final which could define Chelsea’s season
Mauricio Pochettino has praised Conor Gallagher for his consistently high-level performances despite doubts over his Chelsea future.
The 23-year-old midfielder has been one of Chelsea’s stars this season and will likely lead his team out as stand-in captain away at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
Academy product Gallagher has been able to compartmentalise rumours about being sold so Chelsea can spend money on a big-name striker as his contract enters its final 18 months.
Asked about how the homegrown star has handled the uncertainty over his future, Pochettino said: “I think he’s doing a fantastic job, he’s working well, he’s helping the club and us and his teammates a lot.
“We are happy with his performances. He has an advantage because he knows the club. He knows the demands of the Premier League. We are so happy with him.”
He added: “If you want to ask me if I was talking with Conor about this situation: yes.
“Like all the players, when rumours happen, it’s always good to have a good conversation with the player, like Ian Maatsen, or different players like this, Andrey Santos.
“I think always it’s important for us, the coaches, to have very clear and very direct, honest conversations with the players. It’s healthy to have these types of relationships. We were talking all different subjects, and if we have something to communicate, then we will.”
Gallagher and Thiago Silva were the only two senior players rested during the 4-0 FA Cup win at home to Preston on Saturday. But both will start the midweek Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at the Riverside.
Pochettino also praised Silva, the oldest player in Chelsea’s squad at 39, before the trip to the north-east.
“We are trying to treat and to help him and manage him like I would like to be,” he said. “When you have some experience, the most important thing is to feel the respect of your coaching staff.
“I cannot push him to train or do things like an 18-year-old because they are two different levels. Not better or worse, but different.
“We always care about that. He is doing really well. He is helping the team a lot.”