With Valerien Ismael’s West Bromwich Albion side heading into Wednesday evening’s Championship clash on the back of a resounding 3-0 defeat last time out, the 46-year-old Albion manager will undoubtedly be hoping for a much-improved result and performance when Hull City visit The Hawthorns in midweek.
However, with Darnell Furlong’s sending off against Fulham meaning that the right-back will miss Wednesday’s game due to suspension, the Frenchman has been left with something of a selection headache on the right-hand side of his defence.
Having said that, when Ismael arrived at West Brom this summer, he came with the promise of being a manager with a reputation for developing a club’s younger talents – something that Furlong’s suspension could allow him to put into practice once again.
Indeed, with the 46-year-old not having another senior right-back in his first-team squad, it would appear to be a choice between playing either a midfielder or attacker out of position at wing-back or handing 19-year-old right-back Taylor Gardner-Hickman his league debut for the club.
And, considering just how impressive the youngster has been in the club’s youth sides, as well as the fact that Ismael is known to rate the versatile defender extremely highly, it would seem an obvious choice for the Frenchman to finally unleash the teenager against a struggling Hull City side on Wednesday.
Over Gardner-Hickman’s 30 appearances for West Brom’s U18 side, the 19-year-old scored three goals and registered four assists, playing a variety of positions along the right-hand side of the youth team.
The youngster has also continued this fine attacking form over his 34 appearances for Albion’s U23 side, bagging six goals and providing four assists for Deon Burton’s outfit.
And, with Joseph Masi revealing that the man who Sam Allardyce suggested could become an “important” player for West Brom was the reason Ismael did not sign a backup right-back this summer, it would only seem natural for the Frenchman to finally give the youngster a shot in the position on Wednesday evening.