Crunch time for West Brom defender Cedric Kipre

He has been on the outside looking in ever since joining Albion a year ago.

Cedric Kipre of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)
Cedric Kipre of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

And now you can’t help but feel the next few weeks are going to be crucial if Cedric Kipre is going to get his Baggies career off the ground.

Albion have been rocked at centre-back following injuries to Matt Clarke and Dara O’Shea.

And their absence has led to boss Valerien Ismael entering the free transfer market – with Kean Bryan set to sign today.

Just a month ago, though, the boss had spoken very highly of countryman Kipre.

He even named him in his starting XI ahead of Semi Ajayi for the opening day clash at Bournemouth.

In Albion’s last outing at Peterborough, though, Kipre didn’t make the squad. That was despite the absence of Clarke.

And that was another twist to what has been a very strange year for the former Motherwell man.

Snapped up in a £900,000 deal from Wigan on September 4, last year – Kipre was described as someone with ‘the potential to really establish himself as a Premier League defender’ by former sporting and technical director Luke Dowling.

Albion were able to land the defender for a cut-price fee because the Latics were in administration.

And there was a feeling within the club that they had pulled of a coup – with Kipre seen as a player whose value could rocket.

Since then, though, his Albion career hasn’t got off the ground.

Kipre featured just three times for the Baggies last season – twice in the League Cup and once in the FA Cup.

The Frenchman was then sent out on loan to Belgian side Charleroi.

He returned to The Hawthorns to find Ismael had been appointed Baggies boss. And that gave the 24-year-old a fresh start.

When asked about the defender earlier this season, Ismael said he believed the ex-Leicester man was benefitting from having a manager who speaks the same language.

But it’s fair to say the defender looked far from assured when he did feature against Bournemouth on the opening day of the campaign.

Ismael wants his players to be aggressive and on the front foot.

And Kipre over-committed and found himself out of position in the build-up to Bournemouth’s first goal – with the match ultimately finishing 2-2.

It’s unfair to read too much into that match with it Albion’s first competitive outing under Ismael.

At 6ft 3in, Kipre is a towering centre-back who shone for Wigan and who revels in the physical demands of the English game.

And when he arrived at the club, there is no doubt Ismael was impressed with him.

“I’ve been very impressed with Cedric,” the boss said.

“I think it’s maybe been a good thing for him that he has come here with a manager who speaks the same language.

“It’s easier for him just to say hello in the morning, using your home language and tactically to explain the situation more clearly.

“For him, last season was difficult but there is no better place for him to be now. He has shown us his quality. He will have his chance.”

Ismael won’t pick players until they are fit enough to cope with his high intensity style of play. And that means it will likely take Bryan a few weeks to get up to speed.

While he does, Kipre is likely to get another chance to impress – a chance you feel he has to take.

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