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Kevin Phillips makes significant prediction about West Brom’s Reyes Cleary

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Former West Bromwich Albion forward Kevin Phillips believes Reyes Cleary could make his first-team debut for Valerien Ismael’s side over the Christmas period, speaking to West Brom News.

The 17-year-old has been in scintillating form in the Baggies’ youth setup this term, scoring 10 times in seven U18 Premier League appearances and making the step up an age group seamlessly as a regular in the Under-23s now.

Recording seven goals in nine displays in Premier League 2, he hasn’t been phased by this transition and with this, has been the subject of attention from Albion’s first-team coaches ahead of a potential senior debut.

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He was named on Ismael’s bench for the first time against Reading last weekend amid West Brom’s lack of potency up top and with senior striker Jordan Hugill failing to make a real impact during his temporary spell at The Hawthorns thus far, he could easily be overtaken in the pecking order by Cleary who will be eager to win his Championship debut sooner rather than later.

The Norwich City loanee has only scored once for the promotion chasers in 18 league games and has been linked with an early return to Carrow Road with the 29-year-old enjoying an unsuccessful spell in the West Midlands.

Cleary has also been the subject of interest from teams across Europe, so his current side could be looking to reward him with as many first-team opportunities as possible to persuade him to stay.

One man who believes the teenager’s debut may not be far away is ex-Albion forward Phillips, who said to West Brom News: “Cleary’s a young lad and he’s getting on the first team’s bench and scoring for his age group so let’s hope he gets an opportunity and is rewarded.

“Anything can happen, as we know.

“Players can drop out with COVID, you can get another couple of injuries and all of a sudden Cleary could find himself starting a game.

“All he’s got to do is keep on scoring goals at the level he’s at and when he steps up, he takes his chance.

“It’s great to see these young lads on the bench.

“We’ve already seen Ismael isn’t afraid to make decisions so it wouldn’t surprise me if the kid is involved and gets some minutes over the Christmas period.”

The Verdict

Given Cleary is yet to make his professional debut, this is a significant prediction from Phillips.

West Brom’s inability to take their chances is a real source of frustration – and is still a key area for improvement for the Baggies even after their recent victories – failing to build on their lead last Saturday.

They may have come out victorious from their tie against the Royals and had to play certain players in unorthodox positions, but their failure to take some of their chances and lack of quality in the final third wasn’t a by-product of the latter.

Quite frankly, they need to be more intimidating up top and having a fearless youngster like Cleary who has established himself as a scoring machine can only be an asset as opposed to a hindrance in their quest to be more convincing.

They have the perfect opportunity to score a hatful against a struggling Barnsley side this evening – and if they are in a comfortable position at Oakwell at any point – then they should use this opportunity to introduce the teenager.

He has earned this opportunity after performing so well – and after seeing Taylor Garnder-Hickman thrive – it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ismael take a chance on another youngster. It could end up paying dividends for the Frenchman.


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 makes significant prediction about West Brom’s Reyes Cleary

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