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 Bromwich Albion will enter the festive period as the side topping the Championship table as they currently sit two points clear of the chasing pack during the final international break of the calendar year.
Slaven Bilic has guided the Baggies to just one defeat all season, and if they continue at this rate, promotion will be written the stars as a total of 92 points has been enough in four of the last four second-tier campaigns which they are well on course to achieving.
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Their squad depth will fully be put to the test when they welcome Sheffield Wednesday to the Hawthorns in over a week as they’ll be without both skipper Jake Livermore and midfield partner Romaine Sawyers.
It is probably the only area in which Bilic’s side are weak in numbers, which is why centre-back Dara O’Shea should be looking to force a loan move away from the club in January.
Currently, Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley have formed a stern partnership at the back, even if they have only kept four clean sheets together in 16 appearances – it’s clearly not affected their league standing.
The fact that Ahmed Hegazi, who played 40 times last term, can’t get in the side speaks volumes, and it means the Irishman is probably the fourth-choice centre-back at the club.
On Thursday afternoon, O’Shea featured for the Ireland U21 squad in Armenia, which only goes to show his potential – even if he was sent off in the match as he’s competing on the international stage but not for the Baggies’ first-team.
The 20-year-old played 33 games for League Two Exeter City last season but wasn’t sent out on loan again this time around.
This has been a potentially damaging move as the youngster needs game time to continue to progress, so he should soon knock on Bilic’s door and ask to go out and prove his worth to the Croatian.
The only way he may break into the side is if there’s a significant injury crisis, but by performing to a high-standard elsewhere, he can catch his manager’s eye.
If Sam Field and Jonathan Leko can clinch Championship moves, then so can he, which will only help his cause tenfold. Albion’s manager must make a simple call.