Having completed a loan move to Blackburn Rovers on the final day of the January transfer window, Manchester City centre back Taylor Harwood-Bellis will no doubt have been hoping to get his first taste of regular senior football in his career.
Initially however, Harwood-Bellis was made to wait to really get that opportunity, with each of his first two appearances for the club coming from the bench, with Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite having already started to establish himself at Ewood Park, having made a temporary move to Rovers earlier in the January window.
However, after injury to captain Darragh Lenihan had given Harwood-Bellis a run of games alongside Branthwaite at centre back – a tricky experience for the two teenagers – a combination of loss of form and fitness for Branthwaite in late February and early March has now seen Harwood-Bellis start seven of Blackburn’s last eight league games, and it seems as though that is not a position he is going to relinquish anytime soon.
Since Branthwaite dropped out of Rovers’ starting lineup four games ago, Harwood-Bellis has now struck up a strong partnership with the returning Lenihan, with the Manchester City loanee looking increasingly assured at the heart of Blackburn’s defence, despite the fact that Tony Mowbray’s side have taken just four points from the nine games the teenager has played.
That however, is not something that should be seen as a negative reflection on Harwood-Bellis, with the 19-year-old impressing with the reliable presence he is starting to build at the centre of defence, and he can consider himself unlucky not to have been on the end of some better results in recent weeks.
Indeed, despite the fact that Mowbray generally prefers to use a left-footed defender such as Branthwaite in the left centre back position, the right-footed Harwood-Bellis has shown that he is more than capable of filling in in that role in recent weeks.
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As a result, Harwood-Bellis’ solid performances at Ewood Park mean that thoughts for him, and indeed City, may now be turning to getting him an opportunity in the Premier League sooner rather than later, and it seems the chance for him to do that could soon emerge.
According to reports late last week, Brentford are now targeting a potential loan move for Harwood-Bellis for next season should they win promotion to the Premier League, with the Bees currently fourth in the Championship table, three points adrift of the automatic promotion places.
Given he has already shown he is capable of playing in the Championship, that interest from Brentford is something that could please City themselves, given such a deal could effectively be the next step forward for Harwood-Bellis, as he looks to demonstrate that he can eventually help Pep Guardiola’s side compete for trophies at The Etihad.
Consequentially, given the quality of his performances and the interest he is attracting, it seems there can be no doubt that Harwood-Bellis will be given the chance to prove himself at Premier League level sooner rather than later.
That however, is unlikely to please Blackburn, who would no doubt be keen to bring the teenager back to Ewood Park for next season, given the signs of promise he has so far shown in Tony Mowbray’s side.