BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Conor Gallagher was one of the star players for England in their 2-1 win against Switzerland at Wembley on Saturday, providing the assist for Luke Shaw to equalise for Gareth Southgate’s side on the stroke of half-time and generally causing problems for the Swiss opposition.
But for the Crystal Palace attacking midfielder, who is on loan in South London from the Chelsea for the whole season, the experience of starting his first international game in just his second appearance was second-to-none.
“It felt amazing, it was my first time playing at Wembley and it was just a very proud moment,” said the 22-year-old. “It was a massive buzz to play in front of all them fans and with my parents watching and everything, it was great.
“It gives me a lot [of confidence],” added the former West Bromwich Albion loanee when asked about being called up for the second time. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the call up or not, but I’m really happy I did and it’s great that the gaffer shows trust in me. All I’ve got to do is try and keep performing for Palace and for England. I’ve just to keep trying to work hard.”
Such was Gallagher’s performance that he won player of the match and was first out for England to speak to the media after the game where he praised his two Palace team-mates, Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell, who made their England debuts in the same match.
“It’s so special and they both deserve it,” said Gallagher. “They’ve been brilliant for Palace this season and that’s a lot of credit to Crystal Palace for giving them the platform to show they can do and they’ve been fantastic.”
“It definitely helped us,” added the player when asked by the South London Press if being with two fellow Eagles has been a bonus for the Palace trio in the early stages of their England senior careers.
“We’re all mates and it’s our first time really, obviously it’s my second time but you know, you still want to come in and feel comfortable. The lads have been brilliant. They’re such chill lads anyway, so it’s easy to come into the squad. It’s nice having Marc and Ty there with me. We can’t complain.”
Gallagher went on to explain that his role against Switzerland was just an extension of what he has been playing under Patrick Vieira at Selhurst Park and which is something he is very relaxed with.
“The role I was playing today was very similar to what I’ve been playing all season,” he explained. “The manager has done that on purpose. I felt comfortable and was happy playing today. I’ve only played two [England] games but it’s not too much difference – the level is so high playing for England [and] playing in the Premier League.”
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup starting this November, Gallagher is rapidly becoming hard to ignore as one of the players who could be in Southgate’s squad for Qatar, with the Epsom-born player just concentrating on doing what has got him to this point.
“It would be amazing, but that’s still a good few months away,” said Gallagher. “I just need to focus on my club football and take every game as it comes. Hopefully, if I do well enough and I can impress the manager enough, then I can have a shot.”