While it would be rather harsh on Valerien Ismael to suggest that his West Bromwich Albion side have not started the season well, as the Baggies have picked up 25 points from their opening 12 games of the campaign, there have nevertheless been some rumblings of discontent at The Hawthorns this term.
One issue has been the club’s lack of an out and out number nine, an issue which it was apparent Ismael believed he had solved with the signing of Norwich City centre-forward Jordan Hugill on a season-long loan deal.
However, after eight games played for West Brom, the 29-year-old striker is yet to find the back of the net – something which has reignited the debate as to whether Albion need to splash the cash on a new forward in the January transfer window if they are to have any chance of securing a top-two spot this season.
Although, with Ismael having earned something of a reputation for developing younger players during his time at Barnsley, perhaps the Frenchman could already hold the answer to his side’s goalscoring woes in the shape of Rayhaan Tulloch.
Indeed, the 20-year-old has consistently proven that he is a player who knows how to hit the back of the net during his time in the Albion youth setup, having scored 23 goals over 38 appearances for the U18s and 16 goals in 53 appearances for the U23s.
The player who Jonathan Leko dubbed a “star boy” has also already broken into the West Brom first team, making six appearances for the senior side, although a series of injuries have seen the former England U18 international’s appearances limited so far this season.
However, considering the fact that Tulloch was included in Ismael’s matchday squad for the Baggies’ first three Championship fixtures of the season, as well as making a substitute appearance in the 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers back in August, it would indeed appear as if the 46-year-old manager is planning to call upon the youngster when he regains match fitness.
And, considering Hugill’s woes in front of goal so far this term, there would not appear to be much to lose for Ismael to place his trust in Tulloch over the coming months, as the 20-year-old certainly looks to possess the potential to make a real difference in the Baggies attack – something that could save the club millions of pounds in January transfer fees.