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Terry Burton: We want to keep pathway open for West Brom youngsters

Sport | Published:

Albion's youngsters were today promised a route into the first team as the Baggies look to trim their senior squad.

Technical director Terry Burton claimed the club's top academy prospects will have a greater chance of a first-team spot next season thanks to the presence of new head coach Alan Irvine.

And he reckons reducing the size of the senior group will also help youngsters press their claims for first-team games.

Irvine is well-known as an academy director at Blackburn and Everton while the Baggies plan to have just 22 senior players next term.

Burton said: "Quality is the key. If we can get 19 outfield players plus three goalkeepers that would be ideal.

"We've got young players and we want to keep the pathway open because that's a massively important thing for this club.

"We have some extremely good young players – some very young players and some older ones that we really like – and we don't want to lose those players.

"We want to give them a pathway, and with Alan coming in most young players should look at it and say 'that's great'.

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"They will have somebody that understands development as well as first-team football and they will have a far better opportunity of coming through than they might have in the past because of Alan's appointment.

"If we can get half a dozen more quality players in and one or two of the young players knocking on the door, that would give us a chance of competing in what is a very difficult league."

Young midfielder Liam O'Neil forced his way into Premier League action as a substitute last season while winger Kemar Roofe and defender Donervorn Daniels – both products of the academy – were included in matchday squads.

The Baggies saw midfield prospect Izzy Brown leave for Chelsea just over a year ago with the clubs still locked in talks over compensation.

Burton said: "Izzy and a couple of others have been targeted by the big clubs, but if players look at this club and see there's a pathway where people at the top value young players, they should want to stay here and not go to a club where they have 40-odd players in development and none are ever going to play for the first team."

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