Express & Star

Slave Bilic wants West Brom youngsters to impress

Slaven Bilic is looking for Albion’s young guns to step up this season after hailing teenage ace Nathan Ferguson.

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Nathan Ferguson (AMA)

The 18-year-old full-back is expected to be part of the first-team picture in the Championship following an impressive pre-season in which he has featured regularly.

Bilic also sees midfielder Rekeem Harper and winger Kyle Edwards as a key part of his plans.

A busy summer has seen a number of senior players depart, with the Baggies continuing to rebuild ahead of next week’s transfer deadline.

Bilic, appointed head coach back in June, wants two players in each position for the gruelling campaign to come.

He said: “We speak about 46 games, hopefully more with cups and all that. You need a minimum of two players for each position.

“Nathan (Ferguson) is one of our full-backs, it’s a new position for him but from the first day I saw him, the stamina and he’s got it. He’s focused, he’s got everything for that.

“Of course, young players go up and down, but we need him. We need Rekeem (Harper), we need Kyle Edwards too.”

Edwards, 21, made his first-team breakthrough last season, scoring his first senior goal for the Baggies in March’s 1-0 win at Brentford. Bilic also wants to see more from his fellow winger Jonathan Leko and midfielder Sam Field, while 20-year-old defender Dara O’Shea has also featured prominently in pre-season.

Discussing Edwards, Bilic continued: “We need Kyle, he’s shown in every training session that he’s ready.

“He needs our help, he’s a kid, but on the other side he’s 21, so he’s ready. It’s about time. We’re going to help him. I’m counting big time on Kyle. Dara’s made big progress, very focused, very good. Focused is one side, but also quality.

“Jonathan Leko, has got everything. Sam Field came on against Bournemouth, pass, pass, pass, very good, first touch, good legs, good in the defence, that he was lacking a bit before in some games.”