Howkins reaps rewards of continued hard work

KYLE Howkins has had to overcome difficult times in his quest to breach Albion's first-team setup.

The Baggies' latest debutant took to the field for the first time against Mansfield Town, a club at which he spent a period on loan early in his fledgling career, on Tuesday evening.

It was a special moment for a young defender who's battled setback after setback in his journey to the top.

"It was very special to make my debut," said the 22-year-old.

"I've been at the club since I was 12 and there have been very frustrating times for me having spent time out injured.

"To come through those hard times and injuries to make my debut is great.

'I've had to wait for it. I've been out on loan for the last three seasons so I have been trying to get my experience of senior football away from the club.

"I was at Mansfield about two years on loan so it was nice for my debut to be against them. I still know some of the lads. They're a great club."

And there was a family touch for Kyle, producing an assured cameo against the Stags as his grandmother proudly watched on from the stands.

He added: "My nan drove from Wales to watch me tonight!

"It took her two-and-a-half hours to get here so it was nice to get on and make her proud.

"I'm hoping to crack on and stay fit without picking up any more injuries."

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