Despite gathering a rather mixed bag of results in the Championship so far this season with nine wins, five draws and three defeats, West Brom are still very much in the race for a promotion place back to the Premier League next season with Valerien Ismael’s side currently sitting in third place in the league table with 32 points on the board.
One player that has played a significant part in their campaign is full-back Conor Townsend, who has played more minutes than any other Baggies player so far this season, whilst playing as a left-back, left-midfielder and centre-back at times this season, highlighting just how critical he is for the team.
Since joining the Midlands club from Scunthorpe United back in the 2018 summer transfer window in a deal worth a reported fee of around £750k, the 28-year-old, who is currently valued at £1.8m according to Transfermarkt, has made 92 appearances for the Baggies across all competitions, scoring one goal and providing seven assists in the process.
Taking into account Townsend’s importance to the team right now and the fact that his current contract isn’t set to expire until 2024, it’s safe to say his place in the team may not be in danger at this moment in time, although, looking ahead to the future, the Midlands club could already have their ideal long-term replacement for the Englishman with 19-year-old left-back Zac Ashworth.
As a product of West Brom’s youth academy, Ashworth has made 29 appearances for their U18 side, bagging three goals and providing two assists in the process, as well as making 12 appearances for their U23 side.
So far this season, Ashworth has been used in numerous positions across the pitch for the U23 side such as left-back, centre-back, left-midfield and defensive-midfield, showing how versatile he is at such a young age and why U18 manager Peter Gilbert previously praised the teenager for having “excellent” knowledge and understanding of the game.
That suggests that he has the right mindset and ability to become a useful figure in the senior team in the future if afforded the chance and also demonstrates why he’d be Townsend’s natural heir, given he is also adept in more offensive roles too.
While the defender may not be close to replacing West Brom’s current left-back in the senior side at the moment, the fact that defenders Dara O’Shea and Kean Bryan are both out with serious injuries means there’s every possibility that Ismael could well give Ashworth his first shot to impress in the first team before too long.