West Brom’s Nathan Ferguson has versatility Slaven Bilic needs to utilise

Championship Picks

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 Brom clearly aren’t dwelling on last season’s playoff heartbreak as they have begun the 2019/20 campaign unbeaten in the league.

It is three wins and three draws for new boss Slaven Bilic as the Baggies hold fourth position, less than a handful of points off league leaders Swansea City.

They now exit the international break with a tough fixture against Fulham, who themselves are just two points behind Albion, in Saturday’s early kick-off at Craven Cottage.

No more than five of Bilic’s squad were on national team duty, including Nathan Ferguson, who has risen from academy prospect to first-team regular almost overnight.

The 18-year-old has played in all but one of their Championship matches, mainly at right-back but in their last game against Blackburn Rovers, a 3-2 victory, he was deployed on the other side of defence in Kieran Gibbs’ absence.

On Monday night he again showed his impressive versatility, playing at centre-back for England Under-20s.

On the Chalkboard

Ferguson played the entire 90 minutes for the Young Lions, keeping a clean sheet in their 1-0 victory over Switzerland.

It was a debut at Under-20s level for the West Brom defender having previously earned caps for the Under-19s and Under-18s aged just 17.

His versatility could prove invaluable to the Croatian boss as the season goes on and after filling in on either side of the defence, maybe it is time to play him down the middle.

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He may not seem like an obvious choice to play centre-back for the Baggies, but despite the unbeaten start to the season, they are still yet to record a clean sheet so it would make sense to give it a go, especially after his international exploits in the role.

Ahmed Hegazi is still out through injury while Kyle Bartley hasn’t performed entirely to the level asked of him, as we have previously outlined here.

And a move to the centre would also allow £1.5m summer arrival Darnell Furlong to stake his claim at right-back having just started two of their six matches there this season.

It would be a win-win; the switch should be made as quickly as possible.

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