This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
West Brom’s youth academy is a topic of heated debate at the moment.
Louie Barry could be on his way to PSG, although Luke Dowling remains confident he’ll sign a new deal, whilst Rekeem Harper’s future is also in doubt with the midfielder’s contract expiring at the end of the month.
Those two youngsters are particularly exciting talents, although like other promising players before them, may well walk through the exit door.
As a result, Slaven Bilic simply has to build on the youth he has at his disposal.
Last term the Baggies reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals, boasting some of the brightest young talents in the country.
They overcame one of the favourites, Arsenal, on their way to eventually being knocked out by Manchester City one game before the final.
So with that in mind, they have to put a greater focus on the pathway they’re creating for their up and coming stars.
Last term, Darren Moore used six academy players throughout the course of the season, whereas Bilic used 12 in his opening term with West Ham.
However, the players the Croatian utilised actually played less minutes than the six who played for the Baggies in 2018/19.
But there are plenty of players embedded within that impressive side who are deserving of more of a chance under their new manager.
In their opening game of the FA Youth Cup, two of their stand out performers at U18 level were among the goals. Jamie Soule netted twice whilst Morgan Rogers, who has already made his first-team debut also found the net.
That came in a 5-1 win over Lincoln as the Baggies would go onto score 18 times in six matches.
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In front of goal, they were cool and clinical as Soule, Rogers and the equally talented Rayhaan Tulloch all showed great strides. The latter was particularly good against City, scoring their second goal.
And it’s players like those that have to be key to West Brom’s rebuild, particularly with an improvement needed in attack next season.
With hints being made about the need to cut back, it would be foolish to go out and spend unnecessary amounts on potential incomings.
Instead, they must look at what’s already at the club and make use of the fabulous youth system they have.
Bilic may be conjuring up a number of plans to improve Albion ahead of their new era, but building upon their success at youth level could just prove key.
It’s now up to him to implement it.