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Chelsea announce new contract for defender

:Headline: Chelsea announce new contract for defender:
Chelsea announce that academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist has penned a new long-term contract.
Sports Mole

Chelsea defender Alfie Gilchrist has signed a new long-term contract at Stamford Bridge.

After turning down interest in the youngster over the summer, Chelsea extended Gilchrist's contract earlier in the season.

That development came at the same time that the 20-year-old would start to earn minutes in the first team, a consequence of right-back Reece James being ruled out in the long term.

Since making his debut as a late substitute against Crystal Palace over the Christmas period, Gilchrist has gone on to make three starts and nine substitute outings in all competitions.

While Gilchrist remains down the pecking order when everyone is fit, that has rarely been the case under Mauricio Pochettino, and he was used off the bench during the latter stages against Burnley on Saturday.

What does Gilchrist have to say?

The decision has now been taken to further extend Gilchrist's stay at the West Londoners, a contract being signed until 2026 with the option of a further 12 months.

Speaking to the club's official website, he said: "Signing this contract at Chelsea is a massive achievement for me and my family.

"It was a no-brainer and every time I've signed a contract here it has felt nicer and nicer. But now I want to keep on pushing on and keep improving."

Co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley added: 'We are delighted to give Alfie this new contract at Chelsea.

"It has been a pleasure to see him continue his development within the club by breaking into the first-team squad this season. We are looking forward to seeing him progress further in the years to come."

Will Gilchrist have a role to play in the future?

Chelsea fans immediately warmed to Gilchrist when he made an important contribution during the closing seconds of his second outing against Luton Town on December 29, a game which they won by a 3-2 scoreline.

The versatile defender has since been used on three further occasions, his three starts coming in the FA Cup against Preston North End, Aston Villa and Leeds United.

As it stands, though, it is unclear whether he can become a regular in Pochettino's starting lineup, with backup in either full-back position more likely.

Although Gilchrist came through the academy system as a centre-back, he is only 1.83m tall, and his smaller stature for a defender may count against him in the Premier League.

Nevertheless, James, Malo Gusto, Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella have all sustained injury issues this campaign, leaving Gilchrist never far away from earning more game time. body check tags ::

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Read more about Alfie Gilchrist Reece James Mauricio Pochettino Laurence Stewart Paul Winstanley Malo Gusto Ben Chilwell Marc Cucurella Football
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18Luton TownLuton3367204670-2425
19Burnley3348213368-3520
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3237223084-5416
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