Crystal Palace are soaring into the FA Cup semi-finals but spare a thought for Conor Gallagher... red tape will stop the Chelsea loanee from playing against his parent club at Wembley - and it's a rule that MUST be changed
- Crystal Palace thrashed Everton 4-0 to reach the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday
- Conor Gallagher was instrumental but he won't be able to play at Wembley
- Gallagher is on loan from Chelsea - the team Palace will face in the final four
- The FA must change the rules going forward - there is no better development for a player like Gallagher than playing on the biggest stage at Wembley Stadium
Spare a thought for Conor Gallagher this afternoon.
Instead, though, he is set to miss out playing in what would arguably be the biggest day of his club career to date owing to FA red tape.
Conor Gallagher (centre) put in another high-octane performance for Palace against Everton
Despite helping his side into the FA Cup semi-final, he won't be able to play at Wembley
Gallagher wanted Palace to draw anyone but Chelsea on Sunday night - but his worst fears came true.
As a result, due to an FA rule that states: 'The Association will not give permission for players on loan or work experience to play against the lending Club,' Gallagher will have to forgo his domestic Wembley bow.
The FA will say rules are rules and, of course, the regulations are agreed by all clubs at the start of the season.
But the fact Gallagher is to be robbed of an opportunity, a life experience such as this, is a travesty.
In most cases, a club agrees to let one of their young professionals leave the club to aid the player's development.
What better method of development is there for a footballer, particularly one as supremely gifted as Gallagher, than playing under the severe pressures of an FA Cup semi-final?
Gallagher is on loan from Chelsea (pictured) and therefore can't play against his parent club
Gallagher collects his first England cap from manager Gareth Southgate back in November
There aren't many games bigger than that. If Chelsea want Gallagher to return a more complete version of himself next season - then here's their opportunity.
The fact Palace want Gallagher to be available is obvious, of course.
He has been crucial to Patrick Vieira's promising first season in charge, Gallagher's performances at Selhurst Park earning him a senior England call-up.
But surely if Chelsea truly care about Gallagher's development then they will want him playing at Wembley next month - even if it is against them.
The benefits of Gallagher's involvement in a Wembley semi-final would be invaluable.
Indeed, what better way of discovering whether Gallagher has what it takes to handle the mental strains of playing for Chelsea than the 22-year-old proving it - against them - at the home of English football?
Surely player development doesn't come as rich as that. These are the sort of experiences that turn boys into men, exactly the sort of experiences Chelsea wanted Gallagher to endure on loan.
Palace fans created an incredible atmosphere at Selhurst Park and now head to Wembley
Palace will be without Gallagher at the heart of their midfield for the FA Cup semi-final
Who's to say Gallagher will ever get this opportunity again. Given his undoubted potential, you'd think he'll have many more semi-finals and Wembley appearances to come. But who knows what the future may hold.
As it stands, Chelsea are planning on welcoming Gallagher back to Stamford Bridge next season - not to farm him back out on loan - but to integrate him into their first-team.
Of course, the current situation at Chelsea could alter that plan but if Gallagher is given a role within the club's first-team next season then surely they would reap the long-term benefits of the midfielder's involvement at Wembley next month.
Evidently, it's a lost cause for Gallagher this season - but a reconsideration of the rules moving forward should be looked at to prevent a repeat of this scenario.
That said, it could have been worse for Gallagher. It could have been the final.
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