Dara O’Shea has emerged as a key player for West Bromwich Albion in the Baggies’ bid for promotion to the Premier League this term.
The 20-year-old has struggled for game time for Albion in recent years, enjoying positive loan spells at Hereford and more recently, Exeter City, but subsequently failing to be given a chance to shine in the first-team.
This looked to be the case once again for O’Shea in the early stages of this season, where he was given 90 minutes to impress in the 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat to Millwall way back in August.
However, an injury to Kyle Bartley in the 1-1 draw with Brentford in December allowed O’Shea to come on as a substitute and prove his worth, and the academy graduate certainly hasn’t looked back since.
O’Shea has since gone on to feature in the Baggies’ last five league games as well as making two appearances in the FA Cup against Charlton and West Ham, with the defender producing a series of impressive performances at right-back.
He was rewarded with a new three-and-a-half year deal at the Hawthorns towards the end of January, and paid them back with a string of solid displays as well as scoring his first senior goal in a battling 2-0 away win at Millwall.
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Since transforming from an outcast to a first-team player, O’Shea has established himself as a really key player for Albion in what is turning out to be a thrilling race for promotion.
The Baggies sit seven points clear of third place in the Championship table, and the defender will now look to keep on performing to his current level and play his part in helping Albion making a long-awaited return to the top flight.
Speaking to FLW Chief Editor Sam Rourke, former West Brom midfielder Nigel Quashie has hailed the progress made by O’Shea since the turn of the year.
He said: “I think he’s come in and taken on the responsibility of what it’s like to play at first-team level. I think one thing you have to take into consideration is that West Brom have always produced young players and given young players a chance.
“The players that have come in have really sort of taken it by both hands, and since coming into the first-team, O’Shea’s made it very difficult for Bilic to leave him out of the side.
“He’s shown a willingness to want to play for the club, and it’s only a good thing that these young players are getting game time. Like I said before, West Brom really emphasise the need to bring young players through the ranks and I think it’s been proven by their performances.”