Under-21 boss evaluates 2014/15 campaign
ALBION Under-21 boss James Shan has labelled his side’s season a successful one.
Not only did Shan’s rising stars enjoy a nine-game unbeaten run – which helped them to a fifth place finish in the Barclays U21 Premier League division two table – but several youngsters gained invaluable experiences in the first-team squad during the campaign.
Liam O’Neil played twice in the Capital One Cup before enjoying a fruitful loan spell with League One outfit Scunthorpe United in the second-half of the season, while goalkeepers Jack Rose and Alex Palmer both won spots on the bench in the Barclays Premier League.
Forwards Adil Nabi and Tyler Roberts also earned places in the 18-man squad in the top flight this term.
Meanwhile other members of the Under-21 squad including Donervorn Daniels (Blackpool and Aberdeen), Wesley Atkinson (Cambridge United), Bradley Garmston (Gillingham) and Kemar Roofe (Oxford United), spent time playing first-team football during loan stints away from The Hawthorns.
And Shan praised the efforts and achievements of his group.
He said: “There is no doubt that our season has been a successful one.
“Our results and performances in the league have been very good and we enjoyed a brilliant unbeaten run which enabled us to challenge at the top end of the table for the majority of the year.
“We have also had boys like Liam O’Neil come through and several others go out on loan and that is vital for young player’s development.
“Under-21 players could be thrown into the first-team or out on loan at any given time and they will need to know how to win games of football.
“We are a developmental academy and I love teaching but at Under-21 level the boys need to know how to win games too and they have demonstrated that very well.”
While the nature of football means not every young player will achieve their goal of breaking into the senior squad at Albion, the coaching staff are determined to ensure boys are recruited at other professional clubs.
Two youngsters who weren’t offered new deals, Kemar Roofe and Alex Jones, have been snapped up by Oxford United and Birmingham City respectively.
Pre-season trials and scholarships in the USA await the remaining players who were released from The Hawthorns at the end of the season – further success in the eyes of Shan.
“Kemar Roofe going to Oxford United is fantastic and as an academy we see that as a huge positive,” said the Baggies Under-21 boss.
“Alex Jones has also signed a two-year-deal with Birmingham City which again is great news.
“Our ultimate aim is to produce players for our first-team, but if we can’t, our next aim is to make sure that the boys have a career in the game.
“I have really enjoyed working with the players this season and I would like to thank those who won’t be at the club next season for their efforts and wish them every success for the future.
“I would also like to thank my staff and everyone who has been involved with the Under-21 group this season.”