West Brom went six points clear at the top of the Championship table on Wednesday evening after they racked up a third straight victory.
The Baggies came from behind to defeat Reading 2-1 in Berkshire to capitalise on Leeds’ poor form.
Slaven Bilic’s men went on a worrying run of form over the festive period, failing to pick up a win in seven successive matches but that’s hardly affected their title push.
The Croatian has also had to deal with a whole host of injuries to key members of his squad, such as Grady Diangana and Kieran Gibbs.
At the Madejski Stadium, Conor Townsend continued to show why the loss of the former England international isn’t as severe as first thought.
The 26-year-old has been Bilic’s go-to in the absence of Gibbs, featuring 16 times in the Championship this campaign and has started seven of their last eight, per Transfermarkt.
Against Luton, Townsend recorded three key passes, two tackles and even provided two accurate crosses from three attempts, via SofaScore, so he clearly had a big influence at either end of the pitch.
Given Gibbs’ injury record this campaign – he has been completely absent for 19 matches – it would make sense for Bilic to continue to trust the 5 foot 6 full-back as he’s clearly a more reliable option.
Although, he could soon return after featuring for the U23 squad last week.
Nathan Ferguson’s ongoing situation has taken a turn for the worst so the Baggies only really have two options on the left-hand side of defence, so stability in the form of Townsend is only going to continue to benefit the side as seen in their recent form.
He rejected his former club, Hull City, to join the Midlands side when Darren Moore was in charge during the summer of 2018, but it is only this season that he has managed to be a frequent figure.
It will be a big call to make from Bilic’s point of view as he started the season with Gibbs as first-choice but the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind here.
Albion’s three wins have seen Townsend record match ratings of 8.01, 7.02 and 7.45 from WhoScored, which only reinforces his claim to keep his place.
And in other news, West Brom have no option in LOAN STAR’s deal, claims Steve Madeley…