With an FA Cup fourth round tie against Brighton on the horizon, West Brom boss Darren Moore has an ideal opportunity to experiment with his lineup in the hope of finding an able replacement for the departed Harvey Barnes.
Whilst the Baggies will undoubtedly want to progress in the competition, and should view the Seagulls as beatable opposition, Moore should take a few risks to see if he can find someone to replicate the talents of Barnes in that creative role supporting the strikers.
21-year-old Barnes, who was on loan from Leicester, was recalled by the Foxes (as per the BBC) thanks to his scintillating form at the Hawthorns. Barnes managed to score nine goals and record six assists in 26 Championship starts for the Midlands-based side as per Whoscored, which prompted boss Claude Puel to bring him back to the King Power Stadium and throw him in against Wolves for his first Premier League start.
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Whilst that is good news for Leicester and for Barnes, it is a big problem for West Brom who were surely hoping for the Englishman to stay and aid their push for promotion.
The Baggies boss should hand young forward Jonathan Leko a rare start for the trip to the Amex Stadium, having started him in the 1-0 win against Wigan in the earlier rounds of the FA Cup. The 19-year-old has only made one other start this season, coming in the Carabao Cup, but he will be hoping for more game time following Barnes’ departure.
Leko is predominantly a winger, but is a skilful player who has a good eye for a through ball and decent dribbling ability, which suggests that he could be an able performer in a central attacking midfield role too.
The teenager has featured in that position sporadically this season already (as seen on Transfermarkt), and the game against Chris Hughton’s men will give Moore a great chance to test out a 4-2-3-1 system with Leko in behind one of Dwight Gayle or Jay Rodriguez, having favoured a 4-3-3 system in recent weeks.
Moore has opted for a 3-4-1-2 system frequently this season, which would also be an option that deploys Leko in the no.10 role.