Former West Brom forward and EFL pundit Kevin Phillips has suggested that it is a surprise to see the Baggies allow midfielder Romaine Sawyers to leave the Hawthorns for Stoke City.
Sawyers had not been part of Valerien Ismael’s side for the Baggies’ opening three Championship matches with both Jake Livermore and Alex Mowatt being preferred ahead of him in the midfield two.
The midfielder had been linked with a potential move to Stoke with the Potters having been keen to add to their midfield options after a positive start to the campaign for them.
That has seen Michael O’Neill’s side manage to pick up seven points from their opening three matches the same as West Brom.
Stoke have now confirmed the arrival of Sawyers on a season-long loan deal and the midfielder will be aiming to help the Potters build on their encouraging start to the campaign.
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Speaking to West Brom News, Phillips suggested that he was shocked to see West Brom sanction a move for Sawyers to a potential promotion rival in Stoke after their strong start. While he also believes it must mean the Baggies will strengthen in the middle of the park before the window closes.
“Sawyers leaving does leave them a little bit light.
“Also, at this stage of the season, both West Brom and Stoke have started well so to let him go to a rival surprises me a little bit and it does leave them short in that area.
“I was just looking at the squad to see who can come off the bench and sit in the middle of the park. Dara O’Shea played there the other night when Jake Livermore came off.
“Maybe they’ve got someone lined up because I’m pretty surprised they’d let him go without having someone coming in.
“Maybe it’s a case of freeing up a wage so they can act on something before the window shuts.”
At the start of the summer, it would have been a major surprise to see Sawyers leave West Brom considering that he had been a key part of the squad for the last two seasons.
However, it had become clear that Ismael did not see the midfielder as a firm part of his plans for the Baggies this season in the Championship.
Therefore, it does make sense that he has been allowed to leave the club on loan with him not being a player that would have been content to sit on the bench all year.
Phillips is right though that West Brom are taking a bit of a risk by strengthening a Stoke side who are already looking like they have the potential to challenge for promotion this term alongside the Baggies.
However, the Potters still have a lot to prove over whether they can sustain a consistent push for the top six under O’Neill.