Saul Shotton has joined National League North side AFC Telford United on a three month loan deal, the Baggies have confirmed.
It is the 20-year-old’s second senior loan of his career having made 15 appearances in the National League last year for Woking. Shotton has mainly been involved in the Baggies’ U23 team in recent years but made his senior debut for the club this term in their 6-0 League Cup defeat to Arsenal.
Albeit a heavy loss, Shotton’s experience at centre back up against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will stand him in good stead to acclimatise quickly to step six of the pyramid. The 20-year-old will be hoping to gain some admirers at Telford with his deal at The Hawthorns up at the end of next season.
Premier League 2 is a good standard but it is not the same as getting experience in the industry Shotton will want to carve out a career in. Telford are currently just two points above the drop in the National League North so Shotton’s first assignment will be to shore up the defence and help them climb the table.
There are plenty of experienced heads in the Bucks’ squad who will have a lot to offer Shotton as he first looks to show his class in the sixth tier.
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24 appearances in Premier League 2 since his arrival at West Brom after Bury’s liquidation is not enough relevant experience for Shotton to kick on and it will be interesting to monitor his progress at Telford. The Baggies are very well stocked in terms of the centre back position under Valerien Ismael this term and therefore the chances of Shotton earning any first team involvement are scarce.
Centre backs typically hit their peak later in their career than players in other positions so even if Shotton was to sign permanently for a National League North club at the end of his contract, there is plenty of time beyond it for development and to see the level of his true potential.