GEORGE Thorne has been rewarded with a new-and-improved three-and-a-half-year Albion deal – and has today joined Championship promotion contenders Derby on loan.
His Hawthorns contract commits the Baggies Academy product, who only returned to action from a long-term knee injury at the end of September, to the club until June 2017.
And he will now link up with the Rams for the rest of the season, with Albion having no right of recall on the 21-year-old midfielder.
Sporting & Technical Director Richard Garlick said: “George has worked really hard to get back from the injury he suffered this time last year at Everton.
“And we feel he deserves this new deal.
“It’s pleasing to reward another of our Academy products with a long-term contract.
“With George coming back from long-term injury, and the arrival of a new head coach making it difficult to break into the first team, we decided to secure him a loan move to Derby, so he can get game time at a really good club, who are at a good level and play football the way we like.
“We will monitor his progress closely while he is there and Pepe [Mel] is eager to go and watch him.
“Hopefully it will be a win-win situation for everyone and, come the summer, George will be able to hit the ground running with us and force his way into the first-team squad and then the starting line-up.”
Thorne, who joined the Albion Academy at Under-16s level, has previously enjoyed successful loan spells in the Championship with Portsmouth and Peterborough.
He scored his first-ever league goal in seven games for the Posh last season before he was recalled shortly after Boxing Day.
Five Barclays Premier League appearances followed before he suffered season-ending anterior cruciate ligament damage to his right knee at Goodison Park on January 30.
But the former England Under-19s international has battled back well and recently returned from an eight-game loan spell at Championship outfit Watford.
“George has worked really hard to come back from long-term injury and he has been very professional about it,” added Garlick.
“He got his head down and did everything that was asked of him from a medical perspective.
“He’s demonstrated good mental and physical strength.
“And when footballing teams like Watford and Derby in the Championship are prepared to take him on loan, it is great.
“It was not a case of us having to find a team for him, clubs came to us.”