Ex-West Bromwich Albion striker Kevin Phillips believes loanee Jordan Hugill could step up and force his way into the Baggies starting lineup in the potential starting lineup absence of Republic of Ireland international Callum Robinson, speaking to West Brom News.
After testing positive for Covid-19 last month and then being called up to the Republic of Ireland squad, 26-year-old Robinson hasn’t started for Valerien Ismael’s side since 21st August in what has been a blow for the French manager.
The Irishman got off to an electric start to the 2021/22 campaign, scoring three goals in his first three league appearances and grabbing an assist in the thrilling 3-2 victory against Luton Town earlier in the season.
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However, another capable striker in Jordan Hugill arrived on a season-long loan deal from Norwich City in the final month of the summer transfer window.
With the amount of Championship experience he has gained at various clubs and the promotion-winning pedigree he possesses from his time at Carrow Road last term, he could potentially force Robinson out of the starting lineup if he can return to the form he showed at Preston North End before his £10m transfer to West Ham United in 2018.
He scored eight goals in 27 second-tier appearances for the Lilywhites during the first half of the 2017/18 campaign before his move to the London Stadium, but even after failing to hit the same heights since, former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips thinks Robinson’s lack of fitness could be a great opportunity for the Norwich loanee, going on to list some of the attributes he will bring to the Baggies.
Phillips said to West Brom News: “100% [chance for Hugill to get minutes with Robinson not up to speed].
“There’s been a lot spoken about Hugill over the years. At one point there were Premier League clubs looking at him, we even looked at him when I was at Stoke City.
“He’s got the ability, but it’s time, it’s that point in his career where if he gets a chance he needs to take it.
“Hopefully, he does take it and he gets a run in the side because he has got the ability and he gives you that different dimension.
“He’s a big, powerful lad, he can hold it up, link play and get on the end of crosses, so let’s hope the training he has had, if he does get an opportunity, he will take it.”
Robinson came on in the 59th minute for Karlan Grant against Millwall on Saturday afternoon, although it’s unclear whether he will return to the starting lineup for tonight’s clash against Derby County.
Jordan Hugill also came on as a substitute on Saturday afternoon despite Robinson’s fitness concerns, so it just shows you how hard it could be for the 29-year-old to break into Valerien Ismael’s starting lineup this season.
Many Baggies fans were sceptical about the role he was going to play at The Hawthorns after scoring just four times in 31 second-tier appearances last term – and this sort of record will only keep him out of the starting lineup in the West Midlands if he replicates that sort of form.
However, the club’s mini injury crisis at centre-back after Dara O’Shea’s fractured ankle on international duty shows how things quickly could potentially change for him with injuries, suspensions and potentially a loss in form with some players, so Hugill needs to keep working and if he can do that, his opportunity is likely to come.
You have to wonder what impact Karlan Grant’s missed penalty at the weekend has had on his mindset, so he is another player to keep an eye on in terms of Hugill’s situation.
But the Norwich man’s prospects of getting in the starting lineup look reasonably slim at this moment in time with Robinson potentially starting this evening. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise after seeing him come on just a few days ago.