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Kevin Phillips delivers verdict on West Brom star that fans can be ‘proud’ of



Ex-West Bromwich Albion forward Kevin Phillips believes teenager Taylor Gardner-Hickman should be one of the first names on the teamsheet whilst he can retain his current vein of form, speaking in an interview with West Brom News.

The 19-year-old has stepped up to the plate admirably on multiple occasions this season, coming in for the previously-suspended Darnell Furlong against Hull City and playing his part to keep a clean sheet at The Hawthorns.

He impressed once more when he partnered Alex Mowatt in central midfield against Coventry City earlier this month amid an unavailability crisis in the middle of the park, with Jake Livermore and Jayson Molumby suspended and Robert Snodgrass out with a back problem.

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The full-back’s composure in an unorthodox position was commended at the Coventry Building Society Arena as they picked up a 2-1 victory – and he retained his place in the starting lineup for last weekend’s game against Reading amid a Covid crisis in the Albion camp.

Again, he was singled out by many Baggies fans on social media for his mature performance as he was able to keep another clean sheet, helping to keep the Royals at bay on the occasions they were able to turn the ball over.

Although ex-West Brom man Phillips has warned against putting too much pressure on Gardner-Hickman’s shoulders, he believes the full-back should be a regular starter for Albion due to his current performances.

Speaking more in-depth about the youngster to West Brom News, the 48-year-old said: “Gardner-Hickman is clearly a very good player.

“I saw him live at the Coventry game when he was the man of the match he followed it up [against Reading] when we were debating whether he would start because we know Ismael’s not afraid to rotate.

“He looks like a player who, I wouldn’t say to build a squad around him, but when you’re picking a team, he’s got to be one of the first names on the teamsheet because he’s been excellent.

“It’s important they don’t put too much pressure on Gardner-Hickman because he’s still only a young lad but at the minute, you need to let the kid out to play.

“He’s clearly loving it, you’re getting the best out of him and from the supporters’ point of view, you can be very proud.”

The Verdict:

The biggest compliment you could probably make of the young full-back is the fact he’s undoubtedly one of West Brom’s standout players.

Although a youngster bursting into the first team and becoming one of the club’s most important assets isn’t a rarity in football, the fact he has been picked out for praise in a promotion-chasing team just shows how impressive he’s been.

There were concerns over Albion’s depth at wing-back during the early stages of the campaign, but Adam Reach and Gardner-Hickman have shown they can do an admirable job in there and the fact the latter can also operate effectively in central midfield will be a big relief to Ismael.

Although Mowatt and Livermore formed a formidable partnership at the beginning of the campaign, they won’t be available all the time and with Snodgrass reported to be omitted from the Baggies’ plans going forward, the teenager may have to fill in there a few more times before the end of the campaign.

His versatility will maximise his game time, so it’s a win-win for all parties.

A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Kevin Phillips delivers verdict on West Brom star that fans can be ‘proud’ of

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