Under-21 coach expresses delight at loan moves
ALBION Under-21 coach James Shan has several reasons to be more than satisfied with his team’s start to the season.
The Baggies sit third in the Barclays U21 Premier League Division 2 table, enjoying impressive victories over Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa and Stoke City.
Shan has also seen four members of his Under-21 squad handed loan moves, with three of those deals completed within the last 14 days.
Defender Donervon Daniels was first, joining Championship side Blackpool in August on an initial 28-day loan. The Seasiders have since extended his stay until January after a string of solid displays.
Forward Kemar Roofe joined League One Colchester United on a one-month deal at the start of November, and then goalkeeper Jack Rose packed his gloves and headed north to spend a month with League Two side Accrington Stanley just days later.
Now Liam O’Neil, who has started two Capital One Cup games for Albion this season, starts at League One Scunthorpe United on Monday for a month.
Shan is delighted to see four of his most senior players given a chance to impress in the Football League, but admits: “I am surprised that it has taken so long.
“We put a circular out to drum up some interest in the boys.
“For our game against Villa at The Hawthorns we were inundated with scouts.
“We put in a really good performance and there were some eye-catching individual displays too that night.
“To have Kemar, Jack and Liam go out on loan in the last couple of weeks has been perfect.
“Donervon has been at Blackpool since the start of the season and has done well there.
“I am delighted that they are getting that challenge and the opportunity to experience some real football as they say, because they need it.
“The likes of Adil Nabi and Bradley Garmston who is out injured at the moment also both need to go out on loan.
“I would hate to say that the Under-21s is too easy, but maybe sometimes there isn’t enough stimulus for them.
“The pleasing thing for me, is that they’ve contributed really well to the under-21s.”
The departures of some of Shan’s main men from the Under-21 squad could now see some of the Under-18s progress into the older group.
Albion’s Under-21 coach admits that the loans will weaken his side - but that could be a huge positive.
“Will the loan moves weaken the under-21s? Of course it will,” said Shan.
“You are taking senior players out, and when you take senior players out of any squad it would weaken you.
“But it is a big positive too as it will give the Under-18s a chance to step up.
“The pleasing thing for me is that whilst we have had that strong squad, the boys have picked up results.
“I am a winner, I have always been a winner, I want to win games and it hurts me when we don’t win football matches.
“It’s all about finding that fine balance between playing for three points, and playing to aid the development of the boys.”