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Taylor Gardner-Hickman setting West Brom example

Taylor Gardner-Hickman encompasses all the values Albion want in their young players, under-23s boss Rich Beale has said.

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).

The 20-year-old began last season training with Beale in the academy but went on to impress in 21 appearances for the first-team.

Gardner-Hickman's success is now being used as inspiration for Albion's other young stars with the likes of Caleb Taylor, Zac Ashworth and Ethan Ingram all hoping to follow in his footsteps next season.

And Beale says Gardner-Hickman always stood a good chance of breaking into the first-team because of his attitude.

"Taylor is a fantastic story because at the start of pre-season he was first in all the running, he was the most enthusiastic player on the pitch," the coach said.

"In the four, five, six weeks he was with us – he really encompassed all the values, the culture, West Bromwich Albion wants to be about.

"He has the values that as a coach I preach. It's great when that’s the player who goes on to get selected – and not just get selected, show they are good enough to compete at the level.

"And it’s brilliant that the other young lads can now look up to him. He is the first to arrive at the training ground, the last to leave.

"He gives 110 per cent every single day and he is a talented lad well.

But we tell the boys every day, talent alone is not enough. A lot of players in academies country wide, they don’t seem to be able to retain that enthusiasm, they don’t seem to be able to do it day in, day out.

"Often that is the reason why they don’t go on. On any given day, a number of academy players can step into the first-team and play well.

"It's being able to repeat that, repeat that, repeat that. Taylor does that. He works really hard in training and it’s no coincidence that he’s gone on to do what he’s done.

"It’s fantastic for Taylor to have had the season he’s had. And now he’s got to go away and work even harder and do it all again next year and more. I’m really confident he will because he is that type of lad."

Gardner-Hickman's performances last season saw him called up into the England under-20 squad for the first time.

"I’ve only known him a short time but I know that call-up made a lot of people very proud," Beale continued.

"But ultimately all the kudos goes to Taylor because he’s the one whose had to do the bulk of the work.

"It's nice, though, when it’s someone who you know deserves it so much, it’s brilliant to see him get that recognition from his country.

"And hopefully that’s just the start of a long international career.

"Taylor is very, very, humble. He has remained humble. He has signed a new contract, he is in that first-team fold and we firmly believe he is going to be a success."

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