Second-year scholar Deago Nelson says he’s going to put “absolutely everything” into showing a reaction for the U21s in their Premier League Cup clash against Sheffield United on Monday evening (ko 7pm).
The full-back was part of the U18s team which lost out 2-0 to AFC Bournemouth in the FA Youth Cup recently, with the usually right-sided defender showing his versatility by playing at left-back on the night.
While it was ultimately a disappointing result for Albion’s scholarship group, on the whole, it’s been a big year thus far for Nelson - who’s played the majority of his football this season in Richard Beale’s PL2 team.
One of the 18-year-old’s standout displays this term came against the Blades during the two teams’ previous meeting in the PL Cup and the youngster, who hails from Kings Heath, insists he’s keen to make positive memories in this competition to redeem the Youth Cup defeat.
Nelson said: “The FA Youth Cup defeat was very disappointing but I think we all learned a lot from it and it was a good lesson to learn at this stage.
“We all have a strong bond in the U18s group and the occasion may have got to some of us but that’s what can happen in high-pressure moments.
“Now, for me, it’s about putting it right at the next opportunity, which is on Monday.
“I feel very good within myself. I feel confident and I was hoping to bring that into the Youth Cup and it was a shame we didn’t get the result we wanted.
“It’s a lot more physical in the 21s and that’s helped me use my body a lot more, become more aggressive and it’s challenged me in ways the 18s level couldn’t have which has helped me a lot over the past few months.
“Obviously, I come up against players taller than me a lot and that’s made me be a lot smarter in my decisions, smarter on my jumping and the timing of them and that’s where I’ve improved the most I think.
“My first couple of 21s games you’ll have seen I wasn’t really familiar with the timings of my jumps, and I feel like I’ve come on a long way since and now I win those headers against taller players.
“The previous game in the PL Cup against Sheffield United was the one where I really picked up a lot of confidence and from then, it felt like the only way was up for me.
“Playing against senior players proved to me that I could play at that level at some point in my career and that’s where I strive to be.
“I’ve loved every game we’ve played in the PL Cup. We give our all every time we play in the competition and we’re going to continue doing that on Monday.
“After getting knocked out of the Youth Cup, those involved, we’re just going to put absolutely everything into it to amend that bad feeling and regain that good cup feeling once again.
“That pro deal is my motivation this year, as it would being a second-year scholar. I’m just trying to prove to myself and the coaches every day why I deserve it.”