With the future of West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone looking increasingly uncertain as the season progresses, Valerien Ismael may already be turning his attention away from attempting to convince the 28-year-old to remain at The Hawthorns beyond the end of the campaign and towards sourcing a replacement for the England international.
However, before dipping into the transfer market, it would appear highly advisable for the Frenchman to take a closer look at one of the Baggies’ home-grown talents – in the shape of Josh Griffiths.
Indeed, having been sent out on loan to Cheltenham Town last season, the £450k-rated man highly impressed over his 44 League Two appearances, keeping a whopping 21 clean sheets and making an average of two saves per game.
Upon returning to West Brom this summer, the England U21 international was once again sent on out loan for the 2021/22 campaign, this time to Michael Appleton’s Lincoln City.
And, despite the Imps having something of a bumpy start to the season – winning four, drawing four and losing six of their opening 14 league fixtures – Griffiths has nevertheless turned in a number of impressive performances over his 14 League One appearances, making an average of 2.6 saves per game and averaging a SofaScore match rating of 6.72.
Indeed, Appleton has been impressed with what he’s seen from the 20-year-old, stating: “It’s been a difficult start to his campaign, but to come through that type of match [against Rotherham] with crosses and set-pieces raining in on him, shows the type of character he’s got and what sort of goalkeeper he is going to be.”
As such, with yet another season of first-team football behind him, the player Andy Wilcox claimed has a “big future” and believes “one day he could go and play in the Premier League” would appear to be getting ever closer to staking a claim in Ismael’s first-team squad.
And, with Johnstone’s future still appearing to be very much up in the air at present, should the England international indeed leave The Hawthorns at the end of the season, giving the highly-rated Griffiths a shot between the sticks could end up saving the Baggies millions in the transfer market.