Harrison 'proud' of Academy talent

ALBION's Academy Manager Mark Harrison has spoken of his pride after the leading role played by our youngsters in this week's Carabao Cup victory.

The Baggies beat Mansfield 2-1 to advance to Round Three with Jonathan Leko and Kyle Edwards scoring the goals from a starting XI which also included fellow graduates Sam Field and Rekeem Harper.

Defender Kyle Howkins was also called into action from the bench as Albion held off a determined Mansfield rally in the final third of the game while the presence of 16-year-old Morgan Rogers made it a memorable night for Harrison and his staff.

"It was a proud night for us all especially as the players involved were all recruited and developed locally," said Mark.

"Their appearance reflected on the efforts of all the staff over a number of years who have contributed to their development. And I mean everyone.

"What thrilled me the most was the players represented our DNA so well. It represented over ten years of hard work as they have developed through our system.

"They all managed the ball well, rotated, found space, looked to receive and play forwards, all key elements our players should be able to possess by the time they are 18. They need to be masters of this.

"I firmly believe you don't get too high with the highs nor too low with the lows, but it's important to give praise when deserved just as it is important to give a kick up the backside when needed. That applies to every aspect of the Academy so last night was definitely a fantastic night for us.

"Five players on the pitch and a 16-year-old on the bench who is another potentially very exciting prospect.

"I never went to sleep until about 2am reflecting on players' performances and how well they had represented us.

"They haven't achieved anything yet though until they get to 50 appearances. I know Jimmy (Shan) will work hard with them to ensure they keep developing."

Harrison also name-checked an Exeter debut for Dara O'Shea and the continuing development of Jack Fitzwater and Kane Wilson who at the same time were just a few miles away on the pitch at Walsall.

He added: "The most exciting thing for me is we have players with equal if not more potential in our hands.

"It's so important we continue to provide them with the programme, support, experiences to flourish."

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