Youngster thrilled to be away with senior squad
TO earn your first professional contract is one thing.
But to travel away with the first-team on pre-season tour for the first time, on the same day as signing on the dotted line, now that’s something special.
18-year-old defender Shaun Donnellan had that privilege last Thursday when he penned a one-year deal with Baggies before jetting off with the squad to Austria.
It’s quite an achievement for the Republic of Ireland Under-19 international, who was forced to sit on the sidelines for over seven months after sustaining a hamstring injury in October last season.
The youngster’s only competitive action since returning from the setback came for the Under-21 side on the final day of the season at Reading, where he played for 45 minutes.
But now with a clean bill of health, a first professional deal and a chance to impress Tony Pulis, Donnellan is understandably one happy man.
He said: “To sign my first professional contract and then come away with the first-team on pre-season tour for the first time on the same day was really special for me.
“I am really happy to have signed a professional contract, it is any youngster’s dream.
“I found out a few days before the trip that I was going through our Under-21 manager, Jimmy Shan.
“I think I have gelled with the rest of the players really well and they have made me feel really welcome.
“It’s a fantastic experience for me to be out here in Austria with the first-team and one that I am loving even though it is tough.
“I am finding the training really hard.
“I sustained a hamstring injury in early October last year and that kept me out for nine months, which was really frustrating.
“Since then I have only played 45 minutes of football.
“All of the boys are finding it tough, but I think I am finding it that little bit tougher because I was out for so long last year.
“I think I am doing well though and I am managing to keep going.”
Donnellan added: “I think this is the hardest pre-season that I have ever done and I have done a few at Albion.
“The step-up in intensity from what I have been used to previously in pre-season is so clear and the senior players all seem really fit.
“This is a great opportunity for me to impress the first-team coaching staff.
“I am at that age now where I want to be playing first-team football, whether that is with Albion or out on loan for a while, I just need to keep working hard and try to make an impression.”