PL2 side set for Reading clash at Hednesford Town

A photo of Albion U21s boss Richard Beale, in black tracksuit 2023/24 wear, looking on from The Hawthorns dugout

Albion PL2 boss Richard Beale has been delighted with the number of youngsters involved in Carlos Corberán’s first team recently, as he gears up for the U21s’ home clash with Reading on Monday night


The Baggies’ young pros return to action at Keys Park (ko 6.10pm) looking to bounce back from their recent 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace with an improved showing against the Royals. But for some of the other academy graduates, opportunities at senior level have presented themselves.

Harry Whitwell and Reyes Cleary were named on the bench for last Monday’s Championship clash with Coventry, while Josh Shaw, Akeel Higgins and Layton Love featured among the substitutes for the QPR game at The Hawthorns.

PDP boss Beale has only seen positives from members of his squad making the step up to Corberán’s ranks, and insists the PL2 side will continue to play as closely to the first team as possible to continue this - with the next chance to do so against Reading in Staffordshire.

He said: “The results are very much secondary to what we do here.

"What’s more important is getting around the first team and we’ve done really well this year in getting the lads lots of exposure to that in training and games.

“The manager has deemed them to be of the level required to be with his group and on Monday they had Reyes, Harry, Tom, Caleb on the bench, Layton, Josh and Akeel the game before, so it’s been a really good few weeks in that respect.

“It’s also a shot in the arm for a lot of the boys here and at West Bromwich Albion, the good thing is that there is a pathway. Lots of the boys get opportunities to train with the senior team and it’s fantastic to be in the first team coach’s eye-line.

A photo of U21s player Akeel Higgins arriving at The Hawthorns for Albion's game v QPR

“He takes a keen interest and if he’s not at our games, he watches the clips, individual bits of footage and we have a good dialogue on all those young players. It’s fantastic to see Harry Whitwell, who’s still 17, on that bench and performing to a high level every day in training.

“What’s important are the first team results. What’s important is we’re developing youngsters who are getting into the team. We want to win games at every level at this football club, but we’re going into games short on numbers or with a younger team and they’re battling really hard.

“By having those U18s around us, the manager can see them and he can then help us with their individual plans. His staff are good, they’ll speak with the players and it’s not always the case with first teams that they’ll improve individuals.

“But with Carlos and his staff, they improve every person who trains with them which is fantastic.

A photo of head coach Carlos Corberán in training

“We’ve gone into games having only prepared the day before the game, but it’s been a really positive year because of how much exposure those players have had to the first team - which is far more important than us preparing for a PL2 game.

“This U21 area of their development is purely a vehicle for them to get in and around the first team and if they aren’t out on loan, they need to be playing games. They’ll get that in the PL2, we’ll play as closely to the senior team as we can and try and make it as competitive as we can.

“We’ll be patient with them but 100 per cent we’re looking to bounce back in the Reading game with a positive result.”

How to follow the match 

Tickets will be available on the gate at Keys Park for Albion's PL2 clash against Reading on Monday night.

They are priced at £5 adults and £1 concessions, while Albion season ticket holders are able to watch the game for free.

WBA TV+ subscribers will be able to watch a live stream of the game here from 5.20pm.

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