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Progress pleases Smith ahead of 2018 finale

JAMIE Smith says he’s encouraged with the progress that his Under-23s have made so far this season ahead of their final fixture of 2018 at Middlesbrough tonight (ko 7pm).

Albion’s youngsters have already picked up more points during this campaign than they did in the whole of the 2017/18 Premier League 2 Division Two challenge despite still having 10 matches left to play. 

And Jamie believes the squad, who have been defeated in just one of their last seven league games, is in a good place ahead of their break for Christmas and New Year.

“So far it has been a very good season,” he said.

“For us the development of the squad as individuals and as a team, as well as their performances this season, have been pleasing.

“We have been in contention in all the games that we have played even though we haven't always picked up the results that we’ve deserved. 

“Our possession stats, final third entries, shots, crosses and goals conceded per game have all improved which we see as a success.

“There is obviously still loads to work on but we feel that the players are going in the right direction in their development.”

The young Baggies could move up to seventh and leapfrog their Teesside opponents if they win at Heritage Park, with Smith hoping his team can pick up where they left off after last weekend’s superb 2-0 win over Reading.

 “We were very pleased with the result against a very good Reading team who were flying,” added Jamie.

“We rode our luck at times and Jonathan Bond had some work to do but the players showed good character and spirit to win the game.

“Middlesbrough beat us earlier on in the season in what was a hard-fought, close game.

“We’re expecting nothing different this time around - apart from hopefully the result.”

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