Crystal Palace were perhaps always going to find it tough to replace Conor Gallagher after the impact he had in Patrick Vieira’s side last season, but the Frenchman may have an ideal heir in the academy.
Gallagher joined the Eagles on loan from Chelsea and was a huge part of Vieira’s successful debut campaign, as he contributed eight goals and three assists in the Premier League.
His performance in the top flight earned him an impressive 7.09 average rating from WhoScored, which saw him ranked as the best player in Palace’s squad, which emphasises just how important he was to the Eagles.
While his future at Chelsea is still in doubt, with recent reports citing Palace as one of the frontrunners to sign him should he depart Stamford Bridge, Vieira could have a potential long-term replacement for the 22-year-old in Killian Phillips.
The 20-year-old midfielder made his debut for the Eagles’ first team earlier this week in a 2-0 win against Oxford United in the Carabao Cup, and won over Vieira with his performance.
Phillips joined Palace from Drogheda United in January and he went on to make ten appearances in the Premier League 2 last season, contributing one goal and one assist.
He has started the new campaign on fire, hitting two goals and one assist in just three appearances, so it was no surprise to see him make his first team debut at the Kassam Stadium earlier this week.
Following his debut, Vieira spoke highly of the Irish midfielder and fellow debutant Kaden Rodney, saying:
“I have to say I’m really pleased and think Kaden and Killian did really well.”
“He is someone who will catch the eye because of his determination on the field. He is a hard-working player. Three years ago, he was playing [Sunday League] football, but of course, he still needs to understand the game and he still wants to work and he has the attributes that you need to improve yourself.
“I am delighted with the game that he had and I think there is still more to come from him if he is keeping this kind of mentality.”
Therefore, he is clearly a player that Vieira has a close eye on, and if Gallagher doesn’t return to Selhurst Park and Phillips continues to impress in the academy, then it perhaps won’t be too long until the 20-year-old steps up to the first team as the Chelsea man’s replacement.