‘I knew I wasn’t in the plans’ - former Rangers midfielder opens up on Premier League club exit

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The Brighton & Hove Albion star felt he had no choice but to leave Chelsea as his first tea opportunities became more and more limited.

European action is back on centre stage this week as the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League kick off.

Celtic suffered a 2-0 away defeat to Feyenoord last night in the elite level competition while Rangers kick off their campaign in the second tier competition on Thursday as Real Betis visit Ibrox. Aberdeen are Scotland’s sole representatives in the UECL and are also in action on Thursday as they travel to Frankfurt.

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One former Rangers star who will also be back in European action this week is Billy Gilmour, who will welcome AEK Athens alongside his Brighton & Hove Albion teammates to the AMEX Stadium. The Scotland international is a Champions League winner with previous club Chelsea but only managed 22 first team appearances for the Blues during his five years at Stamford Bridge.

The London club snapped the Ardrossan born midfielder up from Rangers youth academy in 2017, before he could play any senior football for the Glasgow club, and loaned him out to Norwich City in 2021/22. Last summer, he signed for Chelsea’s Premier LEague rivals Brighton on a four year deal.

Now, in an interview with talkSPORT, the Scotland international has discussed what went on behind the scenes leading up to the move. He said: “When I came back from my loan from Norwich, I came back and had pre-season and I just wasn’t in the plans. I ended up leaving pre-season with the first-team to go with the reserves. So we were in America for pre-season and then me and two other boys got told there’s not going to be really a chance here, we’re not going to have another opportunity, we’re going to send you with the reserves.

“For me, I was like, right, OK, straight away I knew I wasn’t in the plans, and at that point I was thinking, well, I want to be at a club that really appreciates me and I want to be part of the team. I want to play first-team football. I’ve had a taste for it. I’ve played for my country, so I want to try and push on now. For me, it was the right time to leave. I spoke with the manager at the time, Thomas Tuchel, and he thought the same.

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“In pre-season, it kind of kept getting more and more that I was going to leave. I wasn’t seeing much chance in the first-team, so I took the decision and said, ‘OK, I want to push on now and do what’s best for me’, and that was to be at a club that appreciates me. I want to play football, I want to really settle down and try and find a house and home and be here and give my all.”

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