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Valerian Ismael lauds flexibility of West Brom's Adam Reach

Boss Valerien Ismael has hailed the versatility and professionalism of Adam Reach after he was moved into central midfield for the win over Peterborough.

 Jack Marriott of Peterborough United and Adam Reach of West Bromwich Albion (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Jack Marriott of Peterborough United and Adam Reach of West Bromwich Albion (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Snapped up on a free transfer in the summer after he opted to leave Sheffield Wednesday, Reach arrived at The Hawthorns as competition for Conor Townsend at left wing-back.

But the 28-year-old has shown a couple of times this season he is able to quickly adapt to new roles when required.

Against Reading back in December, a coronavirus outbreak led to Reach playing at centre-back for the very first time in his career.

And Albion produced an excellent performance – and kept a clean sheet – to beat the Royals.

Prior to the win over Peterborough on Saturday, Albion had fallen to defeat at QPR.

Alex Mowatt was suspended for the trip to Loftus Road with Jake Livermore and Jayson Molumby the midfield two.

And the duo, who are both defensively minded, offered very little creativity – with Ismael admitting he turned to Reach after being disappointing with their display.

“There is the question of balance, you see that Alex Mowatt in that area is a very important player for us,” Ismael said when asked why he decided to play left-footed Reach in central midfield.

“The balance with the left foot and right foot.

“The performance against QPR was not good enough – we were not satisfied with our six positions and that meant I had to do something.

“Throughout the week, we spoke with Reachy, we did video sessions.

“Reachy is a great player, you just have to explain to him what you want and then he will do the job perfectly.

“It gives us a great feeling to have such a player.

“He did the job very well, for his first time.”

Another player who has shown his versatility for Albion in recent weeks is Darnell Furlong.

Albion were without four centre-backs at QPR with Kyle Bartley and Kean Bryan injured, Semi Ajayi at the African Cup of Nations and Dara O’Shea having only just returned to training following ankle surgery.

And that led to Furlong switching from wing-back to centre-halve – where the 26-year-old put in an impressive display.

“We spoke with him (Furlong) many weeks ago about him being an option at centre-back,” Ismael said.

“He told me he played there before at QPR.

“And I told him one day we will need him in that position.

“I think he did a great job.

“He has given us another option, another possibility in our squad – it gives us more flexibility.

“But it’s important to get all the players back and not to be changing players and their position every week.”

While Furlong did play well at centre-back at Loftus Road, Albion are now set to welcome Ajayi back into their squad.

The 28-year-old looked set for an extended stay at the African Cup of Nations when Nigeria topped their group with three wins from three.

But they exited the competition in the round of 16 following a 1-0 loss to Tunisia.

Ajayi started one game at the tournament – a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau.

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