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Harvey Barnes enjoying taking a central role at West Brom

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

He may not have got on the scoresheet this time, but Harvey Barnes is relishing his new central role.

Harvey Barnes (AMA)

Having scored two long-range pearlers from outside the box in his opening three games, the talented 20-year-old announced himself to the Baggies fans in style.

But his most complete performance so far in Albion colours came against Queens Park Rangers.

Given a free role behind the strikers, Barnes was the catalyst for the first two goals, the most important breakthroughs before Steve McClaren’s visitors capitulated.

And the Leicester loanee, who has settled in quickly, thinks Darren Moore’s new system gets the best out of his new team-mates.

“I enjoyed playing in the middle,” he said. “I got on the ball a lot and when I did I felt like I had a lot of options with players making runs.

“We’ve only started trying it recently but the boys have taken to it well. It’s a formation that I think will work for us if we execute it right.

“Going forward we have a lot of options with the wing-backs. They pose a danger, Matty on the right, Gibbo on the left, and then you have bodies in the middle. So as a team it suits us really well.”

Capable of bursting past defenders, slipping through-balls to the strikers, and shooting from distance off either foot, Barnes is an exciting talent.

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But he was quick to praise strikers Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez, as well as wing-backs Matt Phillips and Kieran Gibbs for making the sort of runs that make his life easier.

“There’s nothing better than when you have the ball and driving forward with it, knowing that you’ve got those options if you need them,” he said.

“You can either take the difficult route, which is trying to slide clever balls through the middle, but you know, if it comes to it, you can go wide and they’re going to produce down the wings and put a good ball in.

“For me, trying to be as positive in the game and creating as much as I can is the most important thing.

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“It’s lovely scoring goals, but as long as we’re getting the points, that’s the main thing.”

Barnes, who still lives in hometown Leicester, has settled in remarkably quickly to life at the Albion.

“A lot of it is from the team, they’ve given me confidence and I felt a real warmth from the boys and the gaffer,” he said.

“I’m still travelling in from Leicester so it’s nice because after training you can nip home and see your friends and family.”

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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