Academy mates enjoy first outing together

Old mates Jack Fitzwater and Dara O’Shea admit it was ‘great’ to play together in Albion’s 1-0 FA Cup third-round victory at Charlton.

The defensive pairing have represented the Baggies through various age groups and were part of a young squad that boasted an average age of just 23 at The Valley.

And Fitzwater, who made his first-team debut against the Addicks, says he was ‘proud’ to don the famous blue-and-white stripes after joining the club as a seven year old.

“I had my family in the crowd who have been with me for the 15 years that I’ve been here,” said Jack. “It was great to get the win and a clean sheet. When you see your mates coming on to make their debuts it makes you want it even more and I’m really grateful for the opportunity from the gaffer.

“We didn’t know Dara was going to play right-back! I thought he was going to play centre-back but no, it was good. When we got the nod yesterday I was so happy and I was smiling all game. I couldn’t wait last night and it was really special.

“I’m definitely proud, I’ve made my first appearance now, no-one can take that away from me and I’m hopeful for more opportunities and I’m just thankful to the gaffer for putting his trust in me to play.”

Dara added: “Obviously another appearance for the first team and to play alongside my mate is great. It was a good result in the end to get through to the next round.

“The gaffer just said ‘well done’. I think he’s just happy to be into the next round as well, but I think it was great to have so many young lads out there today. It really shows that the Academy is producing players and if we can go out and do it like this then we can only go on and push on stronger. 

“Clean sheets are massive for defenders and me and Fitzy buzz off them. We don’t really get the opportunity to score so a clean sheet is our main aim going into the game. To come away with a win and a clean sheet, we’re buzzing.”

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