Club News

Keen impressed by young guns

Joint-assistant head coach pleased by academy products

KEVIN Keen is delighted with the contribution Albion's youngsters made in last night's clash with Serie A outfit Genoa.

Winger Wes Atkinson and midfielder Aaron Birch came off the bench to make their first-team debuts - while striker Kemar Roofe started for Steve Clarke's side. 

19-year-old attacker Adil Nabi also featured as a second-half replacement for Nicolas Anelka in the 1-0 defeat at the New Bucks Head Stadium. 

And the Baggies' joint-assistant head coach was pleased with the manner in which the development squad players stepped up to the plate. 

"The young lads showed a lot of enthusiasm," said Keen.

"I thought Kemar did really well in the first half.

“He ran out of legs in the second half and we spoke about it afterwards.

"The physical demands on a Premier League player at this level are so high.

“But in the first half positionally in terms of the way he dealt with the ball, I thought he did really well.

“Wes Atkinson also deserves a mention. 

"He got ten minutes when he didn’t know he was in the squad until 3pm.

"He nearly got a goal and produced a couple of moments when he did well."

Keen is happy with where the squad are at physically ahead of the new season - after Albion completed their third game in just six days. 

“Physically it was a tough schedule for us and we just died a little bit at the end of last night's game.

"We’re disappointed we lost but it’s pre-season and the work-out was a good one for us.

“Fitness-wise, the gaffer has told the boys this is the end of our really tough period – the first three or four weeks of pre-season.

“Physically it’s hard and in training on Wednesday we didn’t ease up.

"Leading up to a normal Premier League game we would be nice and easy and the lads wouldn’t have to do much the day before.

“Wednesday was an hour and a half proper pre-season session and in terms of the physical work we wanted to do with them, this is more or less coming to the end.

“The lads have got a bit of time off over the weekend to get their legs back.

"Then we’ve got two games left, Cork and Bologna, where hopefully people will see a sharper side to us."