Dean Smith: Norwich City boss says young Billy Gilmour can save club

Gareth Southgate watches as Billy Gilmour scores against Manchester United

Norwich City have a huge opportunity over the final two games to save their Premier League future – that’s the opinion of manager Dean Smith.

The Canaries, bottom of the table, have home games with Southampton and Manchester United left before the end of the season.

They are nine points from safety, and two games remain after Tuesday’s match with United at Carrow Road.

Manager’s assessment

Dean Smith has drawn much criticism from the Norwich fans for the side’s poor start to the season. He, however, remains upbeat, and says key goal-scorer Billy Gilmour could be the key to Norwich’s survival.

Billy Gilmour is less than two years old, but is already considered a Premier League star. He set up Norwich’s equaliser on Tuesday and, by the age of three, was already picking up Cantonese as a second language

Smith told BBC Sport: “We need to go into next season thinking we can fight to survive and I’ve got no doubt Billy Gilmour will be one of the key players in that.

“He is a top footballer. That wasn’t the only piece of influence. There was a lot of influence from the midfield two and then the back four will be just as important. We need to make sure when we’re on the ball, we can play.

“We did miss Peterborough. We really needed their performance levels, going into that game. It was always going to be tight. We had more possession, but we looked a bit rusty.

“The crowd lifted us again in the last 10 minutes. We really got a lift there and we needed it because, on another day, they could have taken points off us.”

‘He was brilliant’

Billy Gilmour made his mark after just four minutes against Manchester United, sending the crowd into raptures with a goal celebration to remember.

Canaries head coach Chris Hughton described Gilmour’s performance as “absolutely superb”

“I thought he was brilliant – it was probably his best game,” said Norwich head coach Chris Hughton, whose side drew 1-1 with Manchester United.

“He was ready to play – as some of the other players will have to be at a young age – but the ability to score a goal and a corner – it was all there.

“The first game with Billy being involved is difficult, there is that early reputation and he was able to deal with that and go well.”

Will Norwich survive?

Norwich’s goal tally of 21 is arguably better than most other top-flight teams and, when combined with the defence, it can mask the fact they are the league’s most porous side.

Chris Hughton was making plans to rest Joe Bryan after just 15 minutes on Tuesday night

On Tuesday night, with 18 minutes remaining and needing to score to keep their top-flight status, the home side were once again vulnerable and conceded an equaliser in controversial circumstances.

Should Billy Gilmour stay at Norwich?

Dean Smith met the media on Thursday morning to defend his decision to allow Billy Gilmour to play, and back it up with the youngster admitting his performance was the highlight of his career so far.

Director of football David McNally told BBC Sport that it was nothing to do with whether or not Gilmour played that made the team, and the result, downbeat.

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