West Brom boss Slaven Bilic is playing with fire over Rekeem Harper

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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…

West Brom’s start to the season has been rather excellent, so it is hard to criticise how Slaven Bilic has done things so far.

Albion are unbeaten in the league, sitting in fourth after three wins and three draws.

The one negative could be the fact that they are yet to keep a clean sheet though injuries to Ahmed Hegazi and Kieran Gibbs haven’t exactly helped.

In attack, things will only get better as Charlie Austin ramps up his fitness, having barely had much of a pre-season after his former Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl left him out of their squad.

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Out wide things are starting to look dangerous with Grady Diangana, Matt Phillips and Matheus Pereira all finding their feet – scoring five and assisting three between them, per WhoScored.

The midfield trio of Jake Livermore, Romaine Sawyers, and Filip Krovinovic have been instrumental in applying the Croatian’s passing style of football as the lowest passing success rate between the three is 85.8%.

However, it does raise question marks over the contribution of Rekeem Harper.

The first thing Bilic did when arriving in the summer was ensuring that the promising midfielder was kept at the club, the 19-year-old soon signed a contract extension as it appeared he was likely to be part of his plans this season.

That hasn’t quite worked out as of yet, which makes the decision not only seem bizarre, but it could also prove detrimental to the starlet’s career.

Harper has played just six minutes so far in the Championship, so he may well regret rushing to sign on the dotted line this summer.

If Bilic knew he was going to operate with the three midfielders mentioned above, as well as bringing Gareth Barry back into the mix following injury, then he should have done what he did with Sam Field, who plays in the same position and has gone out on loan to Charlton Athletic in the same division.

At least then he would be getting regular game time because anything but that is only going to stall his development – he’s one of their most promising talents, he needs to be playing men’s football. It’s as simple as that.

The Croatian has told the local press that the 19-year-old is training well, so there’s a possibility of seeing him in the near future, but don’t hold your breath.

If Bilic continues to leave him out, he could well see Harper seek pastures new.

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