Harry Whitwell | We must show we deserve first team chances

A photo of Albion midfielder Harry Whitwell, wearing a green bib, in blue training gear during Under-21s training at Albion's Walsall base

Youngster Harry Whitwell is keen to showcase what he’s been gaining in senior training when Albion’s PL2 team travel to Crystal Palace on Monday night (ko 7pm).

The England youth international benefited from regular exposure in Carlos Corberán’s sessions towards the end of last season, and this term is no different.

A box-to-box midfielder, Oxford-born Whitwell believes competing with “proven professionals” in the Baggies’ senior squad is pushing him to showcase what he’s learning in Under-21s matches - with the next opportunity to do so coming at the VBS Community Stadium against the Eagles.

And the 17-year-old hopes improvements shown in recent performances can translate into a winning one on Monday, as Richard Beale’s boys look to try and make things tick in the final third.

Whitwell said: “So far, it’s been a really good challenge.

“Testing yourself against the best players in the country isn’t going to do anything else other than improve you, especially against the clubs who were in the top division last year.

A photo of Harry Whitwell in action for Albion's PL2 team at The Hawthorns

“You know you’re going to be in for a tough test before those games and I think we’ve matched them toe-to-toe in some of our matches this year.

“Sometimes maybe the results haven’t favoured us, but there’s definitely positives in there and we should continue to build on them.

“It’s just about that final finishing touch. If we start finding that, then hopefully we’ll start putting runs together and moving up the table.

“Goals and assists can transform a player and I’ve had success in front of goal at the start, and towards the end of last season. There’s nothing quite like getting those contributions in games to help your team-mates and hopefully that will start to materialise more soon.

“At Albion you’re always going to get opportunities and any first team training across the country is always going to be a big step up from the 21s.

“You’re competing with proven professionals and that’s only going to help you and when I get the chance to do that here, I always go out to impress.

“You have to be so much quicker on the ball with them and you have to take that mentality back to the 21s to show what you’ve learned and show, by performing in those games, that you deserve those chances more.

A photo of Harry Whitwell during the 2023/24 pre-season

“The only thing you want at senior level is no special treatment just because you’re a young lad.

“You want to be treated the same as everyone else and I think the boss will keep demanding more from us because we have the quality to train with the first team and it’s everything we could want when we go up to train with them.

“They were in the top division last year and every time you play Palace, it’s going to be a test. But the last few games we’ve really started to pick up our performance both individually and collectively.

“Hopefully we can start making it tick in the final third and get some goals, because that’s what we’ve been missing. If we put that together against Palace, then we should have a good chance of walking away with three points.”

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