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Opinion: Why West Brom 28-year-old should potentially be pushing for temporary Hawthorns exit

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After starting 11 consecutive league games for West Bromwich Albion between August and October, Semi Ajayi seems to have fallen down the pecking order under Valerien Ismael.

Once looking like the perfect replacement for long-term absentee Dara O’Shea, with the Irishman fracturing his ankle on international duty back at the start of September, it seemed as though Matt Clarke’s arrival would have no influence on the amount of game time he received for the foreseeable future.

But it isn’t Clarke he should have been scared of, Ivorian Cedric Kipre seems to have become a favourite of Ismael’s in recent games and this has limited Ajayi’s opportunities, an unexpected turn of events for a man that had made a very respectable 33 appearances in the top flight last term.

Quiz: Have West Brom signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?

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Barnsley

Sitting on the bench now, the 28-year-old doesn’t look as though he will be able to get back into the starting eleven at this stage, especially with Albion keeping a clean sheet against Barnsley last Friday.

For all their faults, the Baggies have conceded just three goals in eight games with improvements clearly focused on improving their fortunes in the final third, and Ajayi hasn’t started in any of these fixtures.

And how many minutes has he played in total during that eight-match run? 10 in total – and all of those minutes came in their 2-1 away victory at Coventry City at the start of the month.

It’s not all his fault, but the last game he started was in the 3-0 defeat against Fulham, another factor that won’t help his cause in keeping his spot in the starting lineup.

Neither does the fact Conor Townsend can fill in at centre-back, or that Jake Livermore and Adam Reach performed admirably against Reading 10 days ago when he was self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.

Ismael seems insistent on keeping captain Livermore in the starting lineup, but with Alex Mowatt and Jayson Molumby both desperate to start and the Frenchman sticking to his 3-4-3 system, it would be no surprise to see the former slot in at centre-half.

It would be quite a shock to see Reach start ahead of Ajayi at centre-back, but it wouldn’t be so much of a surprise if Townsend or Livermore did, with both being two of the Baggies’ manager’s first names on the teamsheet.

Perhaps this is overthinking his current situation because he was a regular starter earlier in the campaign, but he shouldn’t be sitting on the bench at a Championship level, especially at 28 years old when he should be playing every week.

This is why he should be pushing for a loan spell away from The Hawthorns, because pitch minutes have to be his first priority at this stage of his career regardless of whether he has a real chance of winning promotion with his current team.

Some would argue if he’s to push for a move, it should be a permanent one considering his age, but a change in manager could completely change things for the Nigerian, so he should keep the door ajar for a potential return to the West Midlands in case Ismael changes his mind or the Frenchman departs.

Whether Albion let him go is a completely different matter, because they need as many centre-back options as they can in the event of a Covid outbreak like they had not so long ago, with Kean Bryan also out for the rest of the season.

But it almost feels as though the 28-year-old needs to be selfish in this situation for the sake of his career – and that’s why he needs to engage in talks with Ismael regarding his role at the club after being left out in the cold recently.

Whether he plays regularly at West Brom or another Championship club should make no odds to him, but playing has to be the main priority and this is why the central needs to have a long think about his future ahead of next month.


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: Opinion: Why West Brom 28-year-old should potentially be pushing for temporary Hawthorns exit

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