STEVE Clarke insists sending Albion’s youngsters out on loan is the best Christmas present he could give them.
George Thorne (Peterborough), Cameron Gayle (Shrewsbury) and Donervorn Daniels (Tranmere) on Thursday became the latest Academy products to secure moves elsewhere into the New Year.
Sam Mantom (Walsall), Saido Berahino (Peterborough) and Chris Wood (Millwall) are the other players already on loan at other clubs until early January.
And the Hawthorns boss believes being in the thick of the gruelling festive schedule is vital to their footballing education as they ultimately aim to break into the Baggies first team.
“I like the fact they can go out and play competitive games where it matters,” said Clarke.
“But I also like the fact that we kept most of them here so we could play them together and see them develop together in the Under-21 league.
“We gave that our support and we didn’t send them out straight away.
"But now we’ve got a few out on loan, which is good, because Christmas is a great time for the young boys to go out.
“They learn that Christmas Day as a footballer isn’t about sitting in your house opening your presents.
“It’s about training and it’s about being dedicated, eating the right food and playing on Boxing Day.
“That’s a big part of the education for young players.”
Clarke also insists it was important for Thorne to get competitive action under his belt, with the form of Albion’s midfielders currently denying him first-team opportunities with the Baggies.
He added: “George has played twice for us and he is one of the few Under-21 development players who has done that.
“He played two games in the Capital One Cup and he’s had to be patient because of how well Mulumbu, Yacob and Morrison have done along with Gera, Brunt and all the midfield players.
“George hasn’t been able to get into the team but now he will go out and play more competitive football in the Championship - and that should be good for him.”