Chelsea youngster Billy Gilmour’s return to competitive action this evening did not exactly go according to plan.

Blues prodigy

Scottish starlet Gilmour of course exploded onto the scene at Stamford Bridge last season.

The midfielder was one of a host of talented young players to have been handed the chance to impress by new Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, on the back of the club’s FIFA-enforced transfer ban.

And to say that Gilmour went on to take full advantage of the opportunity afforded to him would be putting it lightly.

After impressing during limited minutes on the pitch over the early months of the season, the former Rangers youth was installed as a permanent member of the Pensioners’ senior squad this past February.

And a number of dazzling performances over the weeks that followed saw fans across England stand up to take notice of what an immense talent the Scot truly is.

After being handed a pair of consecutive starts versus Liverpool and Everton in March, for example, Gilmour bagged back-to-back Man of the Match awards:

⭐️ Man of the Match, @ChelseaFC’s Billy Gilmour
91 touches 🥈
74 completed passes 🥇
37 passes in opposition half 🥇
92.5% passing accuracy
1st PL start, aged 18 years & 271 days

— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 8, 2020

Early bath

As such, it no doubt came as a major blow to club and player alike when, during a Premier League meeting with Crystal Palace early in July, Gilmour picked up a serious knee injury.

The deep-lying midfielder had since not lined out for club or country in over 4 months.

On Thursday, however, Gilmour’s long-awaited return was finally forthcoming.

Scotland’s U21s welcomed Croatia to Tynecastle Stadium a short time ago, for the country’s latest European Championship qualifier.

The clash eventually played out into an entertaining 2-2 draw, a result which saw the Scots maintain their place atop the Group D table.

Gilmour, meanwhile, was introduced on the hour-mark, making a swift impact to help the hosts level things up through Connor McLennan.

As outlined above, however, things soon took a turn for the worse for the 19-year-old.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 03: Billy Gilmour of Chelsea and Takumi Minamino of Liverpool in action during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge on March 03, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

After throwing himself into a challenge inside the Scotland half, a soft free-kick was awarded against Gilmour. The Chelsea star, in turn, went on to make his frustrations clear with the referee.

Bizarrely, however, despite the incident having looked completely innocuous, and Gilmour having already begun to make his way back towards goal, a red card was brandished in the midfielder’s direction.

The bemusement on not only Gilmour’s face, but the faces of rest of the home side’s stars was immediate, as the prodigious teen’s return to competitive action lasted a grand total of 10 minutes.

Billy Gilmour came on for Scotland U21s on the hour mark, helped them peg Croatia U21s back to 2-2, and has just been shown possibly the softest red card I’ve ever seen #CFC

— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) November 12, 2020

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