Valerien Ismael: Timing must be right for West Brom young guns

Valerien Ismael says a number of youngsters are pushing for a place in Albion’s first-team.

Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)
Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

But the boss says it’s important to get the timing right when integrating academy players into the senior side.

The Baggies have a host of talented youngsters in their under-23s.

As well as Josh Griffiths, Callum Morton and Jovan Malcolm, who are out on loan, the likes of Caleb Taylor, Taylor Gardner-Hickman and Ethan Ingram are all pushing for a place with the seniors.

Striker Reyes Cleary is another player making an impression with reports suggesting clubs around Europe are keeping tabs on the 17-year-old.

Ever since his arrival, boss Ismael has made sure Albion’s junior sides mirror the high-intensity style of the first-team.

And he says, ultimately, that will make it easier for players to progress from the academy to the senior side.

“They’re always close to being involved,” Ismael said, when asked if there are any players in the academy pushing for a place in the first-team.

“You see the results with the 23s, since I came here.

“From the first day they’ve changed their way, they play the same system and they’ve won a lot of games with brilliant performances. Southampton 6-0, Norwich 5-2.

“It shows you already that everything is going in in the right direction – with the first team and the 23s.

“The main reason now is that a lot of the young players train with us, and they follow our principles.

“When they play with the 23s, it’s good to see those principles.

“We know that in some positions, if we need to, we can give chances to the younger lads. But they need to wait until the right time, and when it comes I’m sure we’ll have joy with the young players.”

One player tipped for a bright future is centre-back Taylor, who has been a substitute for the first-team on a number of occasions.

And he feels he has improved significantly as a player by working under Ismael in training.

“I’ve worked hard to cement my place in training and give a good impression of myself to the manager by performing well on game days with the under-23s,” he said.

“I want to gain his trust so I can show, when and if he needs me, that he can rely on me to step in.

“Knowing the gaffer likes me is a huge confidence boost and makes me more motivated to try and work harder to get into the first team and gain these important experiences.

“It’s been quite difficult to adjust because under-18s training and games are very different to first-team training, mainly due to the physicality more than anything because I’m up against people like Matty Phillips and others who are strong and developed.

“So I’ve had to adapt to combat that and it’s taken a while.

“But I feel I’m getting there and I’m doing more stuff in the gym to catch up with these guys who’ve been used to Premier League and Championship football.”

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