This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
For West Brom, this summer has been a topsy-turvy state of affairs that rather sums up Albion of late.
As has seemingly been customary, they saw a number of their young stars and indeed youth coaches flee the nest. As a result, it’s become a huge problem.
In years gone by its been players like Izzy Brown and Tyler Roberts who have left, but this summer it was Morgan Rogers and Louie Barry.
The pair joined Manchester City and Barcelona no less, whilst influential figures surrounding academy matters, Mike Scott and Mark Harrison also departed.
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The exit of Scott, in particular, left a bitter taste in the mouth of Albion fans who were also left to complain when Barry left.
They’ve been quick to voice their concerns over matters surrounding the young players at the club but recent comments from Slaven Bilic suggest that matters could be about to improve, thus having the potential to put a smile back on supporters’ faces.
Speaking to Express & Star this week, he had plenty to say about some of the most promising players coming through the ranks.
He was particularly full of praise for Kyle Edwards saying: “He needs our help, he’s a kid, but on the other side he’s 21, so he’s ready. It’s about time. We’re going to help him. I’m counting big time on Kyle.”
He echoed similar sentiments on Rekeem Harper, revealing the club also needs him this season. The midfielder signed a new deal this summer and it appears as though West Brom’s new manager has big plans.
The Croatian also lauded defender Dara O’Shea: “Dara’s made big progress, very focused, very good. Focused is one side, but also quality.”
The glowing plaudits from Bilic is quite something. For many years the Baggies have been subjected to seeing some of their top young players walk out to seek new challenges elsewhere.
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Yet these remarks from the boss suggest that opportunities could be on the horizon for players like Edwards and Harper.
Handing chances to players like those are going to be key, especially in a new era where West Brom have targeted strong Championship players.
They’ve welcomed the likes of Semi Ajayi and Romaine Sawyers in but alongside them, there is room for their top young talents to flourish more than they have in the past.
Bilic’s comments give a perfect glimpse as to why this will be possible.