West Brom’s U23 match this week was a sight for sore eyes as numerous Baggies outcasts were named as starters in their Premier League 2 victory over Sunderland.
Two players who looked certain to leave in the summer, Charlie Austin and Kamil Grosicki, both featured with the Polish winger bagging a brace.
There were also appearances for first-team wing duo Matty Phillips and Kyle Edwards, who have hardly been involved in the Albion’s top-flight campaign so far.
The latter is even out of contract at the end of the season, so it’s quite an important year for him if he’s to remain at his boyhood club.
It speaks volumes that the club only triggered the 12-month extension in his deal back in May, had they been convinced on his true ability, then he’d have received a long-term offer considering he’s only 22.
Speaking in a Q&A with fans last week, The Athletic’s Steve Madeley revealed that talks over a new deal were progressing, albeit slowly and claimed that Slaven Bilic is a big fan of the young winger.
They should be approaching this situation with caution as he’s done nothing to warrant a new contract just yet. It can be argued that he hasn’t been given a fair opportunity, having only played 114 minutes in the Premier League so far, but Bilic watches the player in training more than we do.
And he may be inclined to turn to Grosicki instead as it was the veteran who made the biggest impact in this week’s youth outing, not Edwards. The 22-year-old needs to be pulling up trees in games like this to get truly noticed.
His current teammate, Romaine Sawyers, recollected the time he was compared to Lionel Messi, he told The Athletic:
“I remember Kyle when he was proper, proper small — he was an unbelievable player even then. Mark Harrison, our old academy manager, told my age group, ‘We’ve got this kid who is 10 years old and this is Messi. No word of a lie; I could see the comparison back then. If Kyle’s got videos, I’d urge him to show anybody. He was unbelievable and to see him now in the first team warms my heart.”
That level of ability is something we’re yet to see at a senior level with Edwards only delivering four goals and five assists in 48 appearances for Albion, via Transfermarkt.
For now, Bilic should be ruthless in order to make the wing dynamo earn his stripes.
AND in other news, West Brom could land an upgrade on Livermore with £12m swoop…