Moore: Youngsters edging nearer

DARREN Moore admits Albion's young starlets have given him a selection headache ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet Championship clash with Stoke City.

The Baggies boss fielded five Academy products in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Mansfield Town, with Jonathan Leko, 19, and Kyle Edwards, 20, each finding the net.

Central defender Kyle Howkins, 22, stepped off the bench to make his first-team debut, while Rekeem Harper, 18, and Sam Field, 20, were named in the starting XI. Morgan Rogers, who is just 16, made his maiden appearance on the bench.

Asked whether the performance of his promising youngsters had given him a selection headache, Darren said: "Yes, it was great.

"I thought the way they played was exceptional.

"There were some real individual standout performances.

"I thought the start of the game was excellent, we were very, very bright. We dominated the game for probably sixty to seventy minutes.

"They then showed resilience and character to come back into the game, especially after the game was back at 1-1.

"The character of the boys to go immediately up the other end and score straight away and the resilience to hold on and and win, for a young group of players, was really, really exceptional, so as the head coach I'm delighted with that.

"For the younger players, I think we had six Academy graduates involved, and we were delighted with the way they held themselves against a good Mansfield team who came to win the game.

"There were so many plusses to take from the game."

As for tomorrow's clash with the Potters, Darren revealed what he expects from some familiar faces, as well as how he squad are shaping up.

"They're a very organised team, very energetic. They'll show a lot of speed, power and understanding. They move the ball well.

"Gary's a fantastic coach, a good man. He's one of the top coaches I worked with as a player and his career illustrates that.

"From our perspective - apart from one or two aches and strains - we're fine. We're getting fitter, stronger and sharper."

And the Albion squad continues to evolve after Nacer Chadli's departure for AS Monaco on Thursday evening.

As the transfer window draws to a close, it's a move that suits both parties.

Darren added: "Everybody is happy with Nacer's move; him, us and Monaco.

"We wish him well.

"We've seen young Harvey Barnes and James Morrison come in and play instrumental roles in that position where Nacer would play.

"So we continue move the team forward.

"I'm relatively happy [with the balance]. There's been a lot of adjustments made to the squad.

"At this stage of the transfer window we're still looking out there. If something becomes available that's right for the Football Club then great."

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