Comment: If West Brom aren't going to play Sam Field, let him develop out on loan

This summer Barnsley, Wigan, Charlton and Shrewsbury have all enquired about signing Sam Field on loan.

Sam Field is 21-years-old, and needs regular senior minutes. (AMA)
Sam Field is 21-years-old, and needs regular senior minutes. (AMA)

But none of them have met Albion’s conditions yet and for the 21-year-old, a sense of Deja Vu must be creeping in.

Every transfer window Championship and League One clubs queue up to take Field on loan, but thanks to a series of unfortunate events out of his control the midfielder has not yet been afforded the chance.

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking this Baggies-mad fan was keen to stay at The Hawthorns and play in the blue and white stripes he grew up adoring.

But Field is just as keen as any other footballer to play, and while turning out for Albion is his ultimate dream, sitting on the bench is not.

In the eyes of successive managers, Field has been too good enough to let out on loan, but not good enough to start regularly, leaving him in an awkward no-man's land that stunts his development.

Two summers ago he played the first two games of the Premier League season before Albion signed Gareth Barry and Grzegorz Krychowiak late on in the window.

He remained despite interest from five clubs and barely featured for Tony Pulis afterwards. John Williams, chairman at the time, privately admitted it was a mistake not to loan him out.

The following January, Barnsley, Derby, Norwich and Sunderland were all keen but Alan Pardew blocked a loan move away because Albion were in trouble.

A couple of injuries and he’d be needed, was the argument, and with £150million at stake he was kept.

Pardew told the academy players: “Unfortunately for you guys the club is in a position where your personal development might have to go to one side for five months.” Field didn’t start a single league game after January.

Following relegation there were hopes the England under-20 international would become a regular in the Championship but Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and James Morrison all stayed before Darren Moore moved Chris Brunt into central midfield.

During the season, the emergence of Rekeem Harper and the loan signing of Stefan Johansen shunted him even further down the pecking order.

He may have made 18 appearances last season, but he started just four games in the league.

Field’s career has been a frustrating one for his admirers, and he has many, including this writer.

A hard-working down-to-earth player who always stops and signs autographs for supporters, his Albion background and affable nature means he’s often the first pick for promotional photos of new kits and club merchandise.

But that profile doesn’t match his minutes on the pitch, much to the annoyance of his fans in the stands.

The player himself has never kicked up a stink but Field is no longer a youngster, he’s 21-years-old now, and this season is arguably make or break for him at The Hawthorns.

Slaven Bilic has already showed faith in Kyle Edwards and Nathan Ferguson – two academy products who had a big impact on the opening day victory over Nottingham Forest.

Were Field to stay, the Croatian may also be able to improve his game too.

A tidy player, he is sometimes guilty of playing the safe sideways pass compared to others, like new signing Romaine Sawyers and long-serving Chris Brunt, who regularly look forward.

But Field deserves sympathy because he’s in a Catch-22 situation. With so much pressure on every minute he plays – as they are so rare – he will not want to make any mistakes.

He’s also shown glimpses of forward thinking, like goals against Newcastle and Bolton, but the only way he’s going to improve is with regular senior minutes.

The Championship is a long, gruelling season, and every club needs a squad, but Field wasn’t named in the opening one of the season.

Albion have made significant signings in central midfield this summer, adding Sawyers and Filip Krovinovic, while new centre-back Semi Ajayi can also play there.

Against Forest, Sawyers played in the deep-lying role Field prefers and that is an area Brunt can also play.

Gareth Barry is still training with the club and may also be offered a new deal once the window shuts.

On top of that, Jake Livermore, Rekeem Harper and Ajayi all provide competition and cover in Field's position.

If Field is only going to snatch a handful of senior games again, it’s in Albion’s long-term interest to let him leave on loan and play 30 or 40 instead.

There is a future Baggies team which involves Field, but he’s reached the stage of his career where he needs to play, whether that’s at The Hawthorns or elsewhere.

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