Upon seeing the news that Dara O’Shea had attracted the interest of the Premier League, West Brom fans must have been fearing the worst.
Here we go again will likely have been the cry from many quarters. Because for Albion, they are no strangers to seeing their best youth prospects pack their bags and head elsewhere.
O’Shea could be doing exactly that, after The Daily Mail suggested Bournemouth and Crystal Palace had an interest in the defender.
But where other players have come and gone, the 20-year-old would represent one of the biggest blows if he was to leave.
Why? Because the vast majority of the talents coming through, and indeed prospects that have left the club, tend to be attackers and midfielders.
At the moment West Brom have the likes of Rayhaan Tulloch, Jamie Soule, Kyle Edwards and Morgan Rodgers all coming through in forward areas. The Baggies’ defensive talents are also strong but not compared to those who produce the goals.
As such, holding on O’Shea is key and given interest from other Premier League clubs it would be massive if he stayed at the Hawthorns.
After all, the experience he already holds at senior level could be crucial. This season he’s spent the campaign with Exeter where he’s impressed significantly. So much so that his manager, Matt Taylor, told BBC Sport: “He could go all the way.”
What makes that statement even more impressive is that O’Shea didn’t even start out in association football. He initially started out as a gaelic footballer, before making the move from St Kevin’s Boys to Albion in 2017.
It’s easy to see why the Irishman is rated so highly though; at the age of 20, to be the type of commanding player he is, is a rare commodity. It’s no surprise interest has sprung from elsewhere following his 23 appearances in League Two this term either.
Out of all of the young players coming through who are yet to break into the first team, O’Shea arguably has the greatest chance of attaining consistent minutes at West Brom.
He doesn’t have too many players ahead of him in the pecking order and given Albion’s defensive inconsistencies this season they’d do far worse than giving him a chance next term.
With Mason Holgate’s and Tosin Adarabioyo’s loan deals ending and Craig Dawson’s contract set to expire in 2020, there will be no better chance to make the grade from a defensive point of view.