West Bromwich Albion reporter Joseph Masi has claimed that youngster Taylor Gardner-Hickman could be in contention to play in their next game.
West Brom recently suffered a pretty significant loss away to Derby County in the Championship, after a calamitous error at the back between Cedric Kipre and Sam Johnstone gifted the home side the winner as they failed to jump into the top two in the table.
Absent from the starting eleven was young Gardner-Hickman. The 19-year-old has been making strides into the Baggies team this season, starting four league games since the start of November. However, he found himself on the bench for this one, only coming on in the last 15 minutes.
Speaking on the Express and Star YouTube channel after the game, Masi expressed his disbelief that the teenager was left out of the side, but hinted that he could be set to play in their upcoming game in the Championship, whilst also naming who might be in danger of losing their place as a result.
He said: “Taylor Gardner-Hickman’s had a brilliant couple of games, hasn’t he? Fans are calling for him to play, I think everyone’s surprised that he hasn’t played more.
“If we’re being honest, we don’t want to hammer them, but Darnell Furlong’s not had a great two games; he wasn’t great at Barnsley, he wasn’t great today. Could Taylor Gardner-Hickman come in? I think he could.”
TIF Thoughts on Joseph Masi’s comments about Taylor Gardner-Hickman at West Bromwich Albion…
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The numbers certainly back up Masi’s point when it comes to how well Gardner-Hickman has performed.
He currently ranks in the top three for Baggies defenders when it comes to tackles, interceptions and blocks per game. He also leads the team in dribbles per match with 2.2, more than double his closest competitor, and maintains the fourth-highest pass completion percentage with 78.5% (as per WhoScored). Therefore, it’s clear to see that there is potential for Valerien Ismael to utilise if he wants.
Perhaps the Baggies boss is just being cautious over how he uses someone so young over the fear of throwing him at the deep end at such a young age. But as the numbers show, Gardner-Hickman has clearly demonstrated he can handle himself, so perhaps a longer run in the side could be on the horizon, and their next game against Cardiff City would be a great place to start.