Conor Gallagher wants to show Frank Lampard he’s ready to be Chelsea’s next cab off the rank by steering Swansea City towards the Premier League.
The 20-year-old – on loan at the Liberty Stadium from Stamford Bridge – has been in impressive form lately as the Swans have moved to the cusp of the play-off spots.
A point or more at home to Leeds United today would be enough to nudge the club into sixth place, above Cardiff City, and will be another opportunity for Gallagher to show Chelsea manager Lampard that he is ready for the Premier League – either for his parent club or for another 12 months in Wales.
“I believe I’m good enough to get into the Chelsea team,” says Gallagher, who has already played 41 matches for Swansea and Charlton this season.
“Whether they think I’m ready or not is a different question. If I go back on loan next season then I’ve got to go and prove myself again.
“Me and a lot of other young Chelsea players have been given a lot of hope from seeing what Frank Lampard has done with the youngsters this season.
“Mason Mount was playing in the Championship last season with Derby and he did well. He got his chance at Chelsea and he’s been one of their best players this season.
“It goes to show there are a lot of Chelsea youngsters who prove they’re good enough if they get a chance.
“I’ve always had confidence in myself even before I went to Charlton. I thought I’d get in the team and do well this season but it’s obviously gone better than I expected. I’ve always been confident and I’ve grown even further in confidence this season.”
Like Rhian Brewster, Gallagher was only picked up by Swans boss Steve Cooper in January, but the pair have quickly become central figures in the club’s revival after it appeared their early season dazzle had burned itself out.
The ambitions are the same – to impress sufficiently with Swansea that their respective managers see them as too valuable to part with next season because they will required for promotion to the first team squad.
“Rhian is obviously a great player and he’s scored a lot of goals which I knew he would,” says Gallagher.
“We’re good friends as well so to see him doing well is great. We’ve helped each other a lot on the pitch. I’ve assisted him a few times when he’s scored. It’s a good little partnership we’ve got and I’ve really enjoyed it.
“He’ll want to be playing for Liverpool when they think he’s ready and I want to play for Chelsea one day so we’re both just trying to work as hard as we can really.
“There’s a small chance it could happen if we both stayed at Swansea for another season.
“I’ve had a good half the season here and I really like the club. They’ve treated me really well so we’ll have to see what happens next season. I don’t have a clue at the moment!”
Lampard keeps in touch with Gallagher by message, rather than conversations but that is not to suggest his progress is not monitored by a trusted eye.
Former Chelsea star Claude Makelele – Lampard’s youth coach and technical mentor – is the one who keeps in closer contact.
“Frank Lampard gave me a message a while back just saying well done and to carry on with the work I’ve been doing.
“At Chelsea there are staff for the loan players and they deal with us. I’ve got Claude Makelele who talks to me a lot and helps me.
“I’ve only played a few friendlies, but it would be a dream come true to play for Chelsea. They’re the team I’ve always supported and I’ve come through the academy since I was seven years old.
“To play for the first team would be a great achievement. It would be a proud moment for me and my family.”
Leeds have taken 10 points from their last four matches to retain top spot in the Championship and two more victories in their remaining four games should clinch their automatic promotion.
But the last time Leeds came into Wales they crashed 2-0 at Cardiff City and Swansea have just won back-to-back matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City.
“It’s a massive game,” adds Gallagher. “They’re probably the best team in the league, if not one of the best. We’re just going to give it everything we’ve got.
“It’s a very important game with us being a point behind Cardiff and we need to get a result really if we want to get into the play-offs. Hopefully, we’ll come out of it with the three points.”