This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Bromwich Albion still have a long way to go in this current Championship campaign, but the early signs do indicate that it could be quite the successful season up at the Hawthorns.
The Baggies have garnered 30 points from their 15 matches, which means they average two points per game.
If they keep this up, they should see their tally reach 92 for the season, and that has been enough for automatic promotion in four of the last five seasons.
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But their fortunes could soon change if reports are to be believed as Grady Diangana is under serious consideration to be recalled by West Ham this January, according to Sky Sports.
This would come as a devastating blow, not only because the 21-year-old has contributed four goals and four assists this campaign, but also due to a very similar situation last season with Harvey Barnes, which may have scuppered their promotion hopes as they severely missed his presence after he scored nine and assisted six.
However, since then, the club have been offered some hope as West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has claimed that he would rather the winger stay at the Hawthorns.
He hasn’t ruled out a return and things can change quickly in football – something that was seen with Barnes last season as then-Foxes manager Claude Puel stated the same before going back on his word, according to Steve Madeley.
Speculation is likely to continue surrounding Diangana’s future in the Midlands so with that in mind, having a potential contingency plan in place would make sense.
That might well fall in the form of another West Ham man, Nathan Holland. Football Insider reported earlier this week that the Premier League outfit could be willing to swap the two players in January if necessary.
It remains to be seen whether he would be as good as Diangana, considering he’s barely been exposed to competitive football in the men’s game featuring just twice. However, the same applied to the 21-year-old before joined the Baggies – he had averaged just 35 minutes per game from 17 top-flight matches, via Transfermarkt.
Also aged 21, Holland is quite clearly another one of West Ham’s biggest prospects, and he must be chomping at the bit to get some senior match experience as the England U19 international has scored eight goals and assisted five more from ten Premier League 2 appearances. He’s clearly a player with great attacking promise.
Although he failed to bag against West Brom’s U23 squad earlier this season, he clearly needs an opportunity, and the west Midlanders could hand him that in light of Diangana’s latest news.
The winger’s youth coach Dmitri Halajko has, in the past, given him a glowing review, by saying:
“Nathan Holland was outstanding – he was the best player on the pitch. I think he’s quite possibly the best left midfielder in the league. He’s in fantastic form. He scored a goal and had a massive part to play in all three other goals, and he’s been doing that all season.”
Going off that, he could well be an ideal replacement for Diangana if the Hammers do indeed recall him in a couple of months – it would be one way to turn a negative into a positive.
Holland could at least soften the potentially catastrophic blow to Slaven Bilic’s season come 2020.