Five West Brom stars looking for a fresh chance at Hawthorns

It’s often said the arrival of a new manager gives everyone a fresh start.

Grady Diangana of West Bromwich Albion reacts after having his penalty kick saved in the penalty shot out.
Grady Diangana of West Bromwich Albion reacts after having his penalty kick saved in the penalty shot out.

But as Albion close in on their new boss, there are some players at The Hawthorns who will benefit from a clean slate more than others.

Here are five players who will want to forget the past year and prove to their new boss they are back to their best and ready for regular action.

Cedric Kipre

Snapped up for just 800k from cash-strapped Wigan last summer, sporting and technical director Luke Dowling signed Kipre because he believes he’s a player the Baggies could one day sell for a very healthy profit.

Shortly after his arrival, though, it became clear Slaven Bilic wasn’t overly keen on the centre-back.

And after a quiet first six months at the club, Kipre joined Belgian Pro League side Charleroi on loan until the end of the season.

Now set to return to The Hawthorns, the 24-year-old shone for Wigan when the Latics finished 13th in the Championship only to then be relegated following a points deduction.

Yet to feature in a league game for Albion, Kipre will be desperate to show Baggies fans what he can do.

He will also want to start realising the potential that Dowling clearly feels he has.

Jake Livermore

A player who truly cares about the club, Livermore was inspirational for the Baggies for two-thirds of their promotion-winning campaign.

He did struggle for form when football resumed following project re-start.

And following Sam Allardyce’s arrival as head coach, he barely featured in the Premier League.

Livermore wasn’t involved in Albion’s last two games of the season after picking up a minor knock.

But at 31-years-old, he still has a lot of petrol in the tank. He is also a leader with plenty of experience.

A midfielder who genuinely has the club’s best interests at heart, he’ll be determined to regain his spot in the middle of the park.

Romaine Sawyers

It’s an incredible achievement for any player to get through a season with a 90 per cent pass completion rate.

It’s even more incredible when you play in central midfield.

But that is what Sawyers did in the 2019/20 campaign – with Bilic often hailing him as his team’s metronome.

It’s fair to say playing as a ‘quarter back’ in front of the back four in the Championship suited the 29-year-old.

But being asked to be a more conventional holding midfielder in the Premier League was not Sawyers’ game.

Central midfield is one of the first things the new manager has to look at following the departures of loanees Okay Yokuslu, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Conor Gallagher.

A boyhood Baggies fan, Sawyers will be desperate to put last season behind him recapture his best form.

Grady Diangana

A genuine star during the 2019/20 campaign, fans were overjoyed when Albion signed him on a permanent basis from West Ham last summer.

That deal also prompted outcry at the Hammers end with captain Mark Noble famously criticising the London club on social media for selling the winger.

But a dip in both form and confidence ensured Diangana found the going tough last year.

There is no doubt, though, the 23-year-old is a huge talent – with his last season in the Championship ending with a call-up in the England under-21 squad.

The question surrounding Diangana – like Livermore and Sawyers – is can he turn the tap back on and hit top form in time for the new season.

Ability wise, though, there should be no issue.

Very simply, Diangana should be one of the best forwards in the division next season.

Karlan Grant

The Greenwich-born forward scored 19 goals for what was a poor Huddersfield side during the 2019/20 campaign.

And that form saw the Baggies sign him in a deal worth £17.5million.

Bilic firmly believed Grant was the central striker his squad was missing.

Many of his previous managers, though, felt the 23-year-old was at his best when cutting in from the left flank.

That confusion regarding his best position ultimately meant Grant’s first season at The Hawthorns was a big disappointment.

Albion’s squad also has an abundance of left wingers with Diangna, Callum Robinson and Matt Phillips all able to play there.

With Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin having been released, the Baggies squad is lacking out and out centre-fowards.

At least one will surely arrive this summer.

But it will be interesting to see where Albion’s new manager opts to play Grant.

Wherever he plays, the former England youth international knows he needs to get his career back on track after a disappointing year.

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