Jack Fitzwater is 'close' to West Brom senior team
Jack Fitzwater is nearly ready for Albion's first team with a decision due to be made on a potential January recall from Walsall.
Fitzwater has played every minute of every game for the Saddlers this season and his performances at the heart of defence have impressed Baggies loan manager Deon Burton.
Burton says the 21-year-old’s next step is to rejoin Darren Moore’s side to try and force his way into the starting XI.
But Fitzwater is on a season-long loan at the Banks’s Stadium, and no decision over a January recall has been made yet.
“His development is going as well as could be expected,” said former striker Burton, who replaced Moore as loans manager. “He’s played every single minute of every game so far.
“That definitely shows he’s maturing and a vital part of Walsall’s team.
“He’s developing and stepping up so the next step I’d say, is back here with the first team. That’s the end goal.
“He is close. This loan will be the one where he’s judged. He’s ticking all the boxes.
“He’s doing something right and hopefully the management and first-team staff see he has what it takes for the next step-up which is obviously a bit more difficult.”
In summer, Fitzwater was offered the chance to stay and fight for a place at Albion, where he would be fourth or fifth choice centre-back, or return to Walsall on loan.
He decided to go back to the Banks’s Stadium to continue his development, but Burton confirmed all of Albion’s loans would be reassessed in January.
“If it’s not right for us and the player then we’ll definitely look at it, check where we’re at and how best to move forward for each individual,” explained the 41-year-old.
“With some it might be part and parcel of development, others we might say ‘no’, get them back in the building for a couple of weeks and send them somewhere else.
“At the end of the day it’s down to the parent club if they want the player back.
“No decision has been made and nothing will be made until a later date. At the moment we’re happy with all our players and where they are.”
Fellow Baggies defender Kane Wilson, 18, is also on a season-long loan at Walsall, but he’s finding minutes harder to come by.
“He’s stepped up,” said Burton. “Last year he was in League Two, this year he’s in League One.
“He’s playing a bit-part, but Dean (Keates) the manager has spoken highly of him.
“He’s trying to get him on where he can, but the team is doing really well at the moment so I can understand why he’s not starting him.
“Every time he has started he’s been a credit to us and hasn’t let anyone down.”
Wilson told the Express & Star this week he was still working on his best position, having played centre-back, both full-back positions and on the wing during his fledgling career.
“To be fair, I’ve seen a lot make a good living from being a utility player,” said Burton. “I’d keep my options open at this early stage if I was him.”