KENNY DALGLISH has launched a defence of Billy Gilmour after recent criticism of the Chelsea and Scotland defender.

Charlie Nicholas slated the 21-year-old after he was hooked during the Scots' World Cup play-off semi-final defeat to Ukraine at Hampden and he warned the youngster of becoming "the next Barry Bannan".

Dalglish believes the comments were over the top and he has backed Gilmour to bounce back for his country.

He wrote in the Sunday Post: "Billy had his fair share of criticism after being subbed during the second-half.

"Sure, it wasn’t his best game for his country. But his performance didn’t merit some of the negative reaction, which was way over the top.

"Steve Clarke left Billy on the bench against Armenia, and we produced a decent performance to win the Nations League tie 2-0. He came off the bench yesterday, but could do little to prevent a sore result.

"Now, it’s all about what Billy does in the future. There is no doubt he has the ability and, just as importantly, the correct attitude. So I expect his career to continue on an upward trajectory.

"What happens to him at club level this summer is likely to have an impact on how he performs for Scotland.

"Billy broke into the Chelsea first-team two years ago, and I remember his Man-of-the-Match performance against Liverpool. He was superb.

"His name was on everyone’s lips up and down the country but Thomas Tuchel decided to loan him out to Norwich City for the 2021-22 season. It didn’t really go to plan.

"I want him to have a good season at club level – wherever that may be – and that will see him absolutely ready for Scotland.

"He is an important part of Steve Clarke’s plans and if we are to be successful as a nation at football then we are going to need Billy on top of his game.

"At 21, he is still a young man with years and years ahead of him. He can help us get to the Euros in 2024. I’ve no doubt about that because – unlike the aforementioned critics – I believe in him."