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‘He will only get better’ – Analysing rising talent’s start in the Championship for West Brom: six pointer

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West Bromwich Albion remain unbeaten in the Championship under new boss Slaven Bilic and sit fifth with a win and a draw to their name.

The Croatian coach brought in nine new players over the summer, so it will likely take some time before we see what they’re really capable of, but it has been a solid start.

Despite the influx of new arrivals, perhaps the most impressive new addition to the Baggies first team this season has been defender Nathan Ferguson, an 18-year-old academy graduate.

Discussing Ferguson’s impressive start to the season in today’s six pointer is Ned Holmes…

Firstly, who is he?

“An 18-year-old defender who made his debut for the Baggies at right-back at the start of the season.

“Ferguson played predominantly at centre-back for the under-23 side last season but he has shown his versatility on the right-hand side of defence for the senior side.

“The England under-18 international appears to have locked down a starting spot in Bilic’s side for the time being.”

Where has he come from?

“The 18-year-old is a product of the West Brom academy system.

“He signed his professional contract with the Birmingham club in 2017, which lasts until next summer.

“Ferguson developed through the Baggies age-group sides and has featured heavily in the Premier League 2 for West Brom over the last few years.”

How have his performances been so far?

“His performance in his debut against Nottingham Forest was brilliant.

“The 18-year-old produced a fantastic defensive display, keeping the Forest wingers quiet, and was useful pushing forward as well.

“He followed that up with a solid display against Millwall on Saturday and he will only get better as he gains more confidence.”

Does he have much competition?

“Darnell Furlong was signed from QPR this summer and is Ferguson’s main competition at right-back. The new signing will be hungry to prove himself at one of the Championship’s bigger clubs.

“Furlong is an excellent physical talent and loves to get forward but there are question marks over him defensively for me.

“Furlong made his debut against Millwall in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday and did not set the world alight–Ferguson likely remains first-choice for the time being.”

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What do his coaches say about him?

“When he signed his professional contract two years ago, manager at the time Alan Pardew said he had been quickly impressed by the young man.

Pardew said he had heard about Ferguson when he joined the club and that it took him “about two and a half minutes” to come to the conclusion he was a quality player.

“Current boss Slaven Bilic said he has: ‘everything to be very good [at right-back], or excellent in that role’.

“Ex-academy boss Mark Harrison said he received ‘very complimentary’ feedback from the England under-18’s management about Ferguson, adding that it was ‘not just about Nathan’s performance level but also how he conducted himself and contributed off the pitch’.”

Finally, is he set for a big season?

“He certainly could be.

“The 18-year-old has repaid his manager’s faith in him with his performances so far and if he can keep playing at that level he should be a mainstay in the side.

“He looks set to be the next young player to break through at the Hawthorns.

“The Baggies will be aiming for promotion this season, so it could be an exciting season for the 18-year-old.”

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