West Bromwich Albion losing their unbeaten start to the Championship season at Stoke City a couple of weeks ago was a bad night all around and it wasn’t just because of the finishing result.
The 1-0 defeat was bad enough but fans also had to see a key player limp off the pitch in Alex Mowatt, who had been instrumental to the Baggies’ good start to the campaign.
The 26-year-old midfielder had followed new head coach Valerien Ismael from Barnsley to The Hawthorns and his acquisition on a free transfer was seen as one of the bargains of the transfer window in the EFL.
Mowatt scored eight times and notched seven assists for the Tykes last season and he’s already well on the way to matching those stats with three goals already in his 11 outings – two of those being stunners against Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City.
He’s proving to have a wand of a left foot just like he did at Oakwell but there’s much concern as one of his feet came off worse against the Potters and an injury forced him off the field with 10 minutes to play.
There’s been little update on Mowatt’s condition during the international break – only that he was heading for a scan to assess the damage but he could be missing for a number of weeks and matches potentially.
Therein lies another issue associated with Mowatt’s potential absence – the Baggies are thin on the ground when it comes to the central midfield area, with just Jake Livermore and Jayson Molumby to choose from if Mowatt will be sidelined.
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Molumby arrived from Brighton on loan this summer and has Championship experience to his name with Millwall and Preston North End, but it can be argued that he doesn’t quite have what it takes yet to be a Mowatt replacement.
Mowatt can be both a playmaker and a threat from range in terms of goals, which is why now it seems like a strange move that West Brom made to let Romaine Sawyers go on loan to a divisional rival in Stoke City.
Even if Mowatt’s absence is only a short-term one, it’s worrying that Ismael could go into the next few fixtures with just two central midfielders to choose from and it shows that something needs to be done in the January transfer window to address that.
Sure, Adam Reach and Robert Snodgrass could both probably deputise if needed but it’s not either player’s natural position so it’s something that the club need to look at urgently in a couple of months time when the window re-opens.