West Brom keen to tie teenager Nathan Ferguson down to long-term contract
Albion are planning to tie Nathan Ferguson down to a long-term deal after the teenager’s impressive start to the season under Slaven Bilic.
Ferguson has played every minute of all three Championship games so far after being spotted by Bilic in pre-season and converted to a right-back.
The 18-year-old earned a man of the match performance on opening day against Nottingham Forest and dealt with a hostile home crowd at Luton Town on Saturday.
So far, his performances have kept £1.5million summer signing Darnell Furlong out of the side.
But Ferguson’s current deal – his first professional contract which was signed under Alan Pardew in December 2017 – runs out at the end of the season.
The Baggies are set to open talks with the teenager and offer him a new long-term contract with improved terms.
Born in Birmingham, Ferguson came through the same youth side – Phoenix United – as Saido Berahino, and has been at the Baggies since the age of eight.
On Saturday, he endured boos from the Luton fans after a running battle with former Albion winger Callum McManaman.
But McManaman was eventually subbed off and Bilic was impressed with how the teenager stood up to the task.
“I think, on the contrary, that motivates him,” said Bilic. “It's the fans’ problem, not Nathan's.
“He's one of them, it’s about consistency. We have a squad and others will keep him hungry and consistent.”
Bilic is planning to name a similar team against Reading tomorrow night, but is set to make changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to Derby.
“There isn’t going to be a lot of changes now, but there will be on Saturday when we play,” he revealed.
“We can expect a few other guys who did well against Millwall [in the Carabao Cup]. We only lost that game through set pieces.”
The Baggies are unbeaten in the Championship so far, and Bilic is pleased but keen for more.
“We deserve the results,” he said. “I'm happy with the way we are playing but in every game there is something missing. Is it set pieces, parts of the game? We started sloppy against Forest.
“Against Luton, after 10 minutes there was a black hole. It's all about consistency.”
Albion are also keen to open negotiations with wingers Matt Phillips and Kyle Edwards, whose contracts run out at the end of the season as well.