Express & Star

West Brom move for free agent goalkeeper as Josh Griffiths decision made

Albion are closing in on a deal for free agent former Derby goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith – with Josh Griffiths poised for a loan away from The Hawthorns.

Last updated

The 28-year-old is out of contract at Pride Park this summer and available to sign on a free and has attracted Albion's attention.

Ex-Sheffield Wednesday academy graduate Wildsmith spent two seasons at Derby, the second of which he helped the Rams to automatic promotion from League One. He previously played second-fiddle at Hillsborough.

In doing so, Wildsmith won the golden glove award for most clean sheets in the division with 20.

He left the club at the end of the campaign having not been able to agree a new contract earlier in the season.

The Yorkshire-born shot-stopper looks set to be Carlos Corberan's latest recruit at The Hawthorns this summer following the outfield additions of Ousmane Diakite and Torbjorn Heggem.

Wildsmith made 97 appearances over two seasons for Derby as Paul Warne's side finished as runners-up.

The surprise swoop will see a slight rearrangement of Albion's goalkeeper department with Alex Palmer, 27, secure in his No.1 spot following a highly impressive first full campaign between the sticks.

Back-up Griffiths, 22, Palmer's fellow academy graduate, penned a new two-year contract extension to run until 2027 earlier in the summer and stated his desire to to one day follow Palmer in as Albion's first choice goalkeeper.

The club are now hunting a loan move for highly-regarded Griffiths, who struggled for minutes as reserve to Palmer last term. He has excelled in previous loans, having been away with Cheltenham, Lincoln and Portsmouth.

It remains to be seen where Hereford-born Griffiths will spend next season after previously spending two seasons in League One. His last move in 2022/23 at Pompey, then a third-tier big gun, lasted half a season before an Albion recall.

Third-choice Ted Cann, 23, also signed a new one-year contract at The Hawthorns this summer.

Derby boss Warne said of Wildsmith's exit this summer: "Joe was brilliant and kept loads of clean sheets. He got the golden glove award and I wish him all the best. I had a great relationship with Joe as I do with my other keeper Josh Vickers.

"Joe's contract ran out. We spoke about a new contract last season and that broke down and so we just move on. I want to sign a better number one than the one I've got. I want to sign better midfielders than I released. That happens at the end of every season.

"Joe was great, but so were other players I released who had a massive impact. Conor Hourihane and Korey Smith were players who contributed massively. And if I think the team will improve by changing it, that's what I've got to do."