According to Steve Madeley of The Athletic, West Bromwich Albion made a contract offer to young defender Dara O’Shea following his Championship debut last month, but as encouraging as the decision is, it only highlights a broader problem at the club.
The 20-year-old was handed his maiden bow for the club against Brentford on the 21st of December after Kyle Bartley sustained an injury early in the second half while he was part of the starting line up on Sunday as the Baggies progressed into the FA Cup fourth round proper.
Bilic is a huge admirer of the centre-back, regularly talking the Irishman up when given the opportunity. He once said: “I am going to praise him because I know he isn’t going to be ‘big time’. Dara is the future, and he can be present. Dara is one of the reasons why when I came to the club, we didn’t sign another defender. I love Dara.”
The Athletic believes the defender, who played as a right-back against Charlton, is keen to remain at the club. A breath of fresh air considering the potential plight of the coveted Nathan Ferguson, perhaps.
Offering O’Shea a new deal is absolutely the right decision, but letting a player with such potential enter the final year of his contract is yet another disastrous decision from the club.
It is something that needs to change, starting with sporting and technical director Luke Dowling as he holds the keys to whether or not these players are given long-term futures at the club.
The situation with Ferguson is a frustrating one given that Albion appear set to lose a player that has only just broken through into the first-team, but that’s just deserts for not tying him down sooner.
He was in the England youth setup while playing as a centre-half for the Baggies U23 squad. That’s enough to warrant a new deal.
Leaving it too late causes situations like this and hardly offers any encouragement to those emerging talents amongst the academy.
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The west Midlanders simply cannot keep allowing their brightest prospects to enter the final year of their deal, especially when they are in and around the first-team fold.
It’s an act of mismanagement on Dowling and co’s part, that’s for sure.