West Bromwich Albion boss has been watching in-demand teenager Reyes Cleary closely in training recently with a view to a potential first-team call-up, according to Birmingham Live.
The 17-year-old has been in fantastic form for the U23s this season but is yet to make his senior debut for the Baggies or sign a first professional deal.
Cleary has turned heads across Europe with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, Crystal Palace, and Newcastle United all linked.
He seems to have impressed the West Brom boss as well and a report from Birmingham Live has revealed that the Frenchman has been paying special attention to the attacker in senior training in recent weeks, with a view to a potential first-team call-up if needed.
On the topic of academy players forcing their way into the senior side, potentially due to injuries him his squad, Ismael told Birmingham Live: “They’re always close to being involved, but at the moment you need to have an overview of our squad at the minute.
“Some players, like [Matt] Clarkey, come back but there’s always a question mark with him and you need to be ready to make one change.
“Maybe with a player you need to do something on the back-line, on the six positions now we don’t know, and then the front three, so only with three substitutes you need to make sure that many players can play 90 minutes, and to be able to just think about the game.”
Albion are third in the Championship after 17 games, with a six-point gap between them and the automatic promotion places.
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The West Brom fanbase will feel that losing star prospects has become all too frequent in recent years, with Louie Barry and Morgan Rogers two of a number that have moved elsewhere.
Cleary looks as though he could become the latest to depart but offering him first-team football could persuade him to sign a professional deal at The Hawthorns.
With that in mind, it’s good news that the 17-year-old is someone that Ismael is keeping a close eye on in training and it seems we may see him get his chance soon.
The signing of Jordan Hugill has not really worked out for Albion and they could do with adding a central striker, so we may see the academy prospect given a chance through the middle at some point ahead of January.
Even if that does happen, the interest from some top tier European clubs may mean it’s impossible for the Baggies to keep hold of him.