West Brom enjoy a welcome break from Premier League action as their FA Cup quest begins with a third-round clash this afternoon.
The Baggies head to League One outfit Blackpool, who are managed by former Liverpool academy guru Neil Critchley, and it will give Albion boss Sam Allardyce some respite from their dismal league form
It will also hand the recently-appointed chief an opportunity to assess several players on the fringes of breaking into that starting XI – they have every right to be considering a run of one win in 17 outings.
It is thought that Big Sam is targeting the addition of a defensive midfielder, though he’d be wise to first take a look at Sam Field, whose season has been blighted by injury and testing positive for the virus.
The 22-year-old was on the cusp of starting under Slaven Bilic before the problems crept in and now it has been revealed that he’s back in training ahead of today’s encounter.
Field has only played 45 times for the Baggies, 22 of which in the Premier League, but has been earmarked by pretty much every manager that has come and gone since his debut in May 2016.
The man to hand him that maiden bow was Tony Pulis and he was a huge fan, once claiming: “I think he’s going to be a fantastic player for the club. Technically, he’s as good and as gifted as any footballer I’ve seen at that age.”
Pulis’ successor, Gary Megson, would also go onto wax lyrical over the midfield enforcer, adding: “In terms of Sam, I think he’s going to have a great future as a footballer. He’s got a lot of qualities.”
Bilic even kept hold of him in the summer amid further loan interest, so it is rather perplexing to see him not get much game time, though now the chance has arrived to give him a proper run-out.
In the Championship last season, no Albion player could match his defensive numbers, which should hardly be a surprise given he’s the only holding option at the club – 2.06 tackles, 2.41 clearances and 7.34x possession won per 90 minutes, via The Athletic, is impressive indeed.
AND in other news, West Brom can find their next YACOB in versatile £13.5m powerhouse…