Kean Bryan only managed one competitive start in 2021/22 after signing for West Bromwich Albion in September 2021.
The versatile defender will face fierce competition for places to cement a starting berth under Steve Bruce, but the 25-year-old is up for the challenge, now in the final year of his contract at The Hawthorns.
The Baggies were very strong defensively last season and it was their attacking firepower that let them down in pursuit of a top six finish.
With Semi Ajayi, Dara O’Shea, Kyle Bartley, Cedric Kipre and potentially more to come in, Bryan has a long way to go to force his way into contention.
The Manchester City academy graduate took to Instagram to express his emotions during pre-season.
He wrote: “Feels good to be back around the boys!
“The return is getting closer.”
With some of the transfer business they have completed at this stage of the window, there is pressure building on the Baggies to significantly improve on their tenth placed finish last season.
It is important that Bryan plays some role for West Brom this season, in preparation to, most likely, become a free agent next summer, Championship exposure will enhance his chances of finding a club quickly and more smoothly.
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Being left footed probably gives Bryan a leg-up, in terms of what he can offer Bruce but also in how attractive he would be next summer.
With more sides in the EFL looking to adopt a more possession-based, typically aesthetically pleasing style of play, in recent years, having greater balance playing the ball out from the back with a left footed player is desirable.
As it stands, it seems likely that Bruce will go with a back four heading into next season, which would make it even harder for Bryan to push his way to the front of the queue.
Regardless of his 2022/23 prospects, Bryan will have a role to play from the fringes as the Baggies hope to match the expectations of their supporters.