Mauricio Pochettino gives verdict on Alfie Gilchrist performance vs Aston Villa | Football

The 20-year-old impressed on Friday night against Aston Villa (Picture: Getty)

Mauricio Pochettino hailed Alfie Gilchrist’s mentality after the Chelsea youngster was called into his starting XI at late notice against Aston Villa.

Levi Colwill was set to start the FA Cup fourth round tie at Stamford Bridge on Friday night but suffered a knock in the pre-match warm-up.

Gilchrist was called into the team on 20 minutes’ notice with Pochettino shuffling his backline with the 20-year-old starting at right-back.

The Blues academy star played 65 minutes before being replaced by Ben Chilwell in the second-half.

Pochettino was pleased with the youngster’s performance on the pitch and also praised him for ‘managing the stress’ of being called into the side just ahead of kick-off.

‘Really good. Really good,’ Pochettino said in his post-match press conference.

‘The most difficult thing is to manage the stress. He knew he wasn’t going to play but then he was going to play. All the young ones need time to relax and not spend energy thinking before the game.’

Alfie Gilchrist

Gilchrist was replaced just after the hour mark (Picture: Getty)

Gilchrist has come off the bench for brief cameo appearances in each of Chelsea’s last three Premier League games having also started their FA Cup third round win over Preston.

With Reece James still sidelined, he is competing with Malo Gusto for starts with Pochettino believing the youngster has proved he is ready for first-team action.

‘It’s really important for his career. He needs to compete with different players in his position.

‘It’s important for all the academy players who have the opportunity to play to cope and show they can play for Chelsea. We are so happy in the way he’s producing.’

Chelsea had several opportunities to take the lead on the night but were let down by poor finishing with Emiliano Martinez also impressing in the Villa goal.

‘I am so happy with the performance of the whole team,’ Pochettino said of the performance. ‘I think the performance was good we just weren’t clinical enough. For them to face a team like Aston Villa who are doing fantastic in the Premier League and are in the top four, I think it’s a very good signal that we are improving.

‘Of course we wanted to win. We were not clinical enough but we created chances and we need to keep believing.’


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