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Ally Robertson: West Brom need two full backs

Club legend Ally Robertson believes Albion need to sign a couple of full-backs this summer.

Conor Townsend of West Bromwich Albion looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City at The Hawthorns on April 23, 2022 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens - WBA/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Conor Townsend of West Bromwich Albion looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City at The Hawthorns on April 23, 2022 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens - WBA/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

As things stand, Darnell Furlong and Conor Townsend are the only recognised full-backs in Steve Bruce’s squad.

Taylor Gardner-Hickman and Adam Reach deputised for those players at wing-back last season as the Baggies primary played with a back three.

But Bruce wants to switch to flat back four next year.

“Bruce has said he wants to play with a back four next season so we now have to build a squad for that,” said Robertson who made more than 600 appearances for the club between 1969 and 1986.

“The squad had been built for a back three.

“But we only really have two full-backs so we need cover.

“More importantly, we need players who can compete for a starting spot to bring the best out of Conor Townsend and Darnell Furlong.

“We need to build a squad so that everyone is fighting for their place.”

Former manager Valerien Ismael – who played as a centre-back for Bayern Munich – felt both Furlong and Townsend were at their best when deployed at wing-back.

But Bruce – who played as a centre-back for Manchester United – believes they are more suited to being full-backs.

And Robertson, one of Albion’s greatest ever central defenders, agrees with Bruce.

“For me, they are both full-backs,” Robertson added.

“All full-backs today have to be able to get the ball forward and go.

“We had a fantastic one in my day with Derek Statham.

“When he was on the ball he was like a winger.

“But he could do the defensive side as well.

“I can’t imagine what he’d be worth in today’s game.

“When you are playing wing-back, though, there is that bit extra attacking responsibility.

“Furlong and Townsend have a lot of attacking strengths.

“But I do think they are better suited to be being full-backs.”

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