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Opinion: Valerien Ismael must fix this West Brom issue in January as a matter of urgency

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After suffering relegation to the Championship earlier this year, West Bromwich Albion decided to turn to Valerien Ismael for inspiration as he was drafted in as Sam Allardyce’s successor.

Tasked with guiding the club back to the Premier League next year, the Frenchman has made a relatively encouraging start to his tenure at The Hawthorns.

During the opening stages of the 2021/22 campaign, Ismael was able to get the very best out of defender Dara O’Shea as his side embarked on an unbeaten run in the second-tier.

With the 22-year-old in the club’s starting line up, West Brom accumulated 13 points from five games.

As well as scoring in two of these fixtures, O’Shea managed to record an average WhoScored match rating of 7.73 in the Championship before disaster struck in September.

Whilst on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, the defender suffered a serious ankle injury which is expected to keep him out of action until 2022.

Ismael decided to respond to this issue by signing Kean Bryan on a free transfer.

After making his debut against Queens Park Rangers, Bryan featured in West Brom’s recent clashes with Bristol City and Hull City.

During the club’s 1-0 victory over the Tigers, the former Sheffield United man had to be substituted in the 40th minute after sustaining a knee injury.

As confirmed by West Brom’s official website yesterday, Bryan is now set to miss the remainder of the season due to the fact that he suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament in this aforementioned fixture.

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Conor Gallagher

With the defender set to undergo surgery, Ismael may now need to bolster his options at centre-back in January as this has become somewhat of a problem position for the Baggies this season.

Although West Brom are currently able to call upon the services of Matt Clarke, Semi Ajayi, Cedric Kipre and Kyle Bartley, an injury to one of these players could have a detrimental impact on the club’s fortunes in the Championship.

Whilst Conor Townsend has illustrated this season that he is capable of playing in this role, the Baggies must consider making a move for another defender in the upcoming window.

Whereas it would be naive to sign a centre-back on a permanent deal due to the fact that Bryan and O’Shea are both likely to make a return to action next year, Ismael may find it beneficial to sign a player on a temporary deal.

By drafting in an experienced individual who knows exactly what it takes to thrive at this level, the Baggies boss could boost his side’s chances of achieving promotion this season.

Furthermore, the arrival of a new defender could force the likes of Kipre, Ajayi, Clarke and Bartley, who are currently averaging WhoScored match ratings of 6.64, 6,81, 6.95 and 7.28 in the second-tier, to step up their performance levels during the second-half of the current campaign.


Freelance writer for Football League World. Previously worked for 90min & GiveMeSport.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Valerien Ismael must fix this West Brom issue in January as a matter of urgency

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