Ex-West Bromwich Albion striker Kevin Phillips believes centre-back Dara O’Shea could return from the ankle injury he sustained on international duty in time for next Saturday’s Championship clash against Millwall, speaking to West Brom News.
The Republic of Ireland international has been a key part of Baggies manager Valerien Ismael’s plans this season, starting in all five games in a back three alongside the likes of Kyle Bartley, Semi Ajayi and the injured Matt Clarke this season.
Although his defensive solidity has been commendable and was part of a side that kept a clean sheet and allowed Ajayi to snatch a late winner against Peterborough United last weekend, the 22-year-old has also been a threat in the opposition box, popping up with two league goals so far this season.
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With manager Ismael opting to weaponise right-back Darnell Furlong’s long-throws, he previously looked set to continue causing havoc from set-pieces throughout the 2021/22 campaign in the West Midlands side’s quest to win promotion back to the Premier League.
However, he picked up a nasty-looking ankle injury against Portugal on Wednesday evening whilst on international duty for the Republic of Ireland – and if it’s as bad as it looks – he could be for an extended period of time after being forced off in the 36th minute.
Kevin Phillips is slightly more optimistic about this latest injury blow, however, and in an interview with West Brom News, the 48-year-old said: “He has been one of the better players.
“He’s got himself some goals, assists, a big game coming up next week (Millwall). Of course, if it is going to be bad and miss that, it is going to be a blow.
“He has been outstanding and one of the most consistent players so I’d be surprised if he does miss it, I think they’ll wrap him in cotton wool.”
They would be very lucky to have O’Shea back in time for Millwall, although everyone will be keeping their fingers crossed. With how bad the injury looks, they would probably even be happy if he’s just out for a couple of weeks because Cedric Kipre could come in and do a job there.
This latest blow isn’t ideal though with Matt Clarke already out for the next month and the senior players they have available at the back dwindling, so they may need to recruit a centre-back on a short-term deal, temporarily switch to a back four or bring in a wing-back to play in a more central role.
After their promising start to the season, manager Ismael will be reluctant to switch his formation but he may not want another centre-back either. The Baggies already have five central defenders in their squad and it would be impossible to keep all of them happy if they add a sixth.
Then again, former target Kean Bryan is still available on a free transfer if officials at The Hawthorns are still interested in bringing him to the West Midlands and in the absence of Clarke and O’Shea, he could be a solid option to have in defence.
He made his Premier League breakthrough but hasn’t played a huge amount of senior football in his career so far, perhaps one drawback of striking his potential deal.