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Taylor Gardner-Hickman was the perfect answer to West Brom poser

Valerien Ismael says he knew Taylor Gardner-Hickman could play in central midfield for Albion because he fits the profile of what is needed in the ‘six’ position.

Taylor Gardner-Hickman  (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Taylor Gardner-Hickman (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Having come through the club’s academy as a winger, Gardner-Hickman was converted into a wing-back by Ismael at the start of the season.

But with Jake Livermore and Jayson Molumby suspended, the 19-year-old was deployed in central midfield for Albion’s 2-1 win at Coventry on Saturday.

Gardner-Hickman repaid his manager’s faith by putting in a man-of-the-match display.

And Ismael said he had no doubts the teenager could perform there – with the manager knowing exactly what is needed from each of his players in his 3-4-3 formation.

“You need to understand how I pick my players, it’s all about our principles and what we need in that position,” Ismael said, when asked why he picked Garnder-Hickman in midfield.

“What is the profile? The profile for the six position is you need to have brains, you need to have that intensity, you need to cover a lot of distances – both running and with the ball to make sure you have that quality in transition.

“I know my profile so I need to see which players are able to play that position.

“Taylor gave us that confidence and I think it made a massive difference to have a full week to prepare for the game.

“To train 11 v 11 throughout the week, to see what worked, what didn’t work and to change.

“That is the reason why he put in a great performance.”

Prior to the game at Coventry, Albion had gone almost five hours without scoring.

Ismael, though, always knew his team would soon be back amongst the goals.

“It could have been more but when you have struggled to score for three games you have to be satisfied that we scored two early goals,” the boss said.

“But we knew that we were really, really, close because of how the players had worked throughout the week.

“It’s just the feeling you get. I was never worried.

“I hope now the players can get from the Coventry game some more confidence for the next step against Reading.”

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