Slaven Bilic: West Brom starlet Nathan Ferguson has traits of England ace

Slaven Bilic says he can see similarities between Albion starlet Nathan Ferguson and England international Declan Rice.

Nathan Ferguson of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)
Nathan Ferguson of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

The Croatian boss handed Rice his West Ham debut when he was in charge of the Hammers back in 2017.

Since then the midfielder has gone onto establish himself in the Premier League and win five caps for England.

Ferguson, meanwhile, has seen his career transformed ever since Bilic arrived at The Hawthorns – with the youngster becoming a first-team regular almost overnight.

The defender has gone on to repay that faith with a string of impressive displays.

He also netted his first senior goal in the 2-0 win at QPR on Saturday. And Bilic believes Ferguson and Rice are similar characters.

"Nathan reminds me of Declan Rice," the head coach said.

"He is only 18 on paper. But in his mind, I don’t know, is he 25 or 27, he is a kid but only a kid in a positive way.

"He is playing left-back and (at QPR) he’s had a shot and scored from 20-yards – that is the good thing about being young. He is positive.

"It is our job to keep him humble. There is no doubt he has an extremely bright future and a great career in front of him."

Ferguson came through the youth ranks at Albion playing as a central defender.

But he began this season at right-back before being switched to left-back after Kieran Gibbs and Conor Townsend picked up injuries.

And Bilic is delighted with the way he has risen to the challenge, with the head coach believing Ferguson's defensive nous gives right-back Darnell Furlong more freedom to get forward.

"He (Ferguson) started off at right-back – he is more of a right-back then a left-back," the 51-year-old added.

"But then we lost both Kieran and Conor for five weeks at the same time.

"Somebody had to step in. He has stepped in and done the job.

"And funnily enough he is giving us good balance, the shape that we take when he is at left-back means we can push Darnell up."

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