Steve Bruce: West Brom back up players will have to wait for another chance

Boss Steve Bruce admits there are question marks around his Albion supporting cast after an underwhelming display.

Steve Bruce of West Bromwich Albion during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Derby County and West Bromwich Albion at Pride Park Stadium on August 23, 2022 in Derby, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Steve Bruce of West Bromwich Albion during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Derby County and West Bromwich Albion at Pride Park Stadium on August 23, 2022 in Derby, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

The Baggies chief made 10 changes from the side that rattled five past Hull for Tuesday's Carabao Cup exit at Derby, where he was disappointed with his side's display.

Bruce said there is a 'question mark' around whether his back-up options forced themselves into his thoughts to be in contention to start at Huddersfield in the Championship on Saturday.

"You've got a point there – did they do enough to be in the team on Saturday?" Bruce said, before adding after a pause: "Question mark."

Albion's squad remains light in departments with exactly a week to go in the summer transfer market. Bruce has said he is keen to strengthen in a couple of areas.

After a cup exit, Bruce knows opportunities for his second string could be more scarce.

"It keeps the squad healthy because around the corner there's a game," he added. "My philosophy always in the cup is give the young ones and the ones who haven't been playing a chance.

"When you put that together it will always be a risk.

"It would've been crazy to play the team that won on Saturday and expect them to go to Huddersfield on Saturday, then go again on Tuesday and then go again on Friday, it's not going to happen."

Some of Albion's academy teenagers were handed another senior run out at Pride Park earlier this week.

Right-back Ethan Ingram started but, following a tough first half, was substituted at half-time for fellow teen Tom Fellows. Zac Ashworth and Reyes Cleary also started.

It was an experience for him, he had a tough evening and he has to learn from it," Bruce said of Ingram. "Nerves got to him maybe a little bit, which is a part of the experience and he has to get to grips with it.

"They all did okay, as I said it shows how difficult it is, even against a team who are young too.

"Tom Fellows was bright. Yes, should've scored, then we're all talking about him and it's worth it. I'm sure he'll have a sleepless night over it."

On hot forward prospect Cleary, who has showed bright flashes in his two Cup outings, Bruce said: "Listen, it's a huge learning curve for him of how difficult it is.

"They've all still got a lot to do, but it's a step for them. They've played on the big stage, played at Derby and did OK.

"Everybody's OK – the one who did well was my goalkeeper! (Alex Palmer)"

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