West Brom have gone from challenging for the Championship title and automatic promotion to battling for a play-off spot lower down the table in a matter of months, and this demise has led to the sacking of Valerien Ismael, followed by the appointment of Steve Bruce in the last few weeks.
Bruce clearly enjoys working in challenging scenarios, of which he experienced during his most recent tenure at Newcastle United, and it will be no easy feat to turn around the poor fortunes of the Baggies as they have only picked up one win in nine games, with the new manager yet to seal a victory in his first two games in charge, following a goalless draw at The Hawthorns on Monday night against Blackburn Rovers.
There is one player who has proven he has what it takes to be impactful in the side following a string of starting appearances under the former manager, and he could become a talisman for Bruce if he can get the best out of the youngster.
Taylor Gardner-Hickman signed a new contract committing his future to the Baggies at the end of last year, after impressing in the first team which led to praise from Ismael, in which he called the 20-year-old “fearless” following the completion of his contract;
“He represents exactly what we want to see from young players. He’s hungry, he has desire, he’s fearless. He also has a lot of quality,” he said.
Despite only making his debut for the first team during this season, the young starlet was hugely impressive in his first four Championship games where he appeared in the line-up, with the Baggies taking all three point from three out of the four, and was given Man of the Match for his most notable performance against Coventry City.
According to Sky Sports, back in December, in the first away victory since September against Coventry, Gardner-Hickman had the most touches, most blocks, and most successful passes for West Brom proving he is capable of outstanding contribution for the side.
In fact, in the nine appearances that the 20-year-old gem has recorded in the league this season for the Baggies, the youngster has won the majority of his duels (55%), been successful in the majority of his dribbles (60%), made 2.6 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game and has the sixth highest rating overall in the entire first team squad (6.98) according to SofaScore.
With that being said, the ex-Newcastle boss must unleash Gardner-Hickman in the starting line-up of his struggling West Brom side as he could clearly make an impactful contribution in the challenge to secure a play-off place in the last 15 games of the season.