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  • by Yann Tear

Gallagher targets World Cup after first start for England - and has high praise for Eagles debutants

Conor Gallagher believes he is in with a shout of a World Cup place, as long as he can maintain his club form and keeps impressing boss Gareth Southgate.

The midfielder, on loan to Crystal Palace from Chelsea, has been a revelation this season and he had an energetic eye-catching first start in earning his second England cap in Saturday's 2-1 win over Switzerland at Wembley.

FIFA have yet to declare how large squads can be for the Qatar tournament, which starts in November, but Gallagher hopes he has a chance to make the cut.

"Of course it would be amazing to be in the World Cup squad," he said. "It's still a good few months away, so I just need to focus on my club football and take every game as it comes.

"But hopefully, if I do well enough and impress the manager enough, I can have a shot.

"I wasn't sure whether I was going to get the call-up or not but I'm really happy I did and it's great that the gaffer shows trust in me and all I've got to do is try to keep performing for Palace and for England and got to keep working hard.

"I've only played two games so far [for England]. There's not too much difference. The role I played today was very similar to the one I've been playing all season and I think the manager did that on purpose, so I felt comfortable. I was happy playing today."

He said of the weekend friendly: "It felt amazing. It was my first time playing at Wembley and it was just a very proud moment.

It was a massive buzz, to be honest with you, to play in front of all those fans and with my parents watching and everything, it was great."

Gallagher's day was even more special because Eagles team-mates Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell (who come off the bench) both earned their first caps - making it a very proud day for the players and the south London club they represent.

"It was so special for them. They both deserve it, " Gallagher said.

"They've been brilliant for Palace this season and that's a lot of credit to Crystal Palace for giving them the platform to show what they can do. They've been fantastic.

"It's helped being in the squad together. We're all mates and it's all our first time. The other lads have been brilliant and it's been easy to come into the squad."

As for the game itself, Gallagher laid on the equaliser for Luke Shaw and always looked involved. He said of the match: "It was tough. We knew it would be a tough game. They are a top side.

"The first half we found it quite difficult. They attacked well and they countered well, but I felt in the second half it opened up a bit and we started to play a little bit better and create more chances. I think, overall, it was a good performance from us."


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