West Bromwich Albion manager Valerien Ismael has revealed that he decided to sanction Romaine Sawyers’ loan switch to Stoke City as he couldn’t guarantee the midfielder the game-time that he needed to thrive at this level.
The 29-year-old joined the Potters on a temporary basis during the summer transfer window after being left out of the Baggies’ clashes with AFC Bournemouth, Luton Town and Sheffield United earlier this season.
Since making the move to the bet365 Stadium, Sawyers has featured on seven occasions for Stoke in the Championship as he has helped his side make a positive start to the 2021/22 campaign.
With the Potters set to take on West Brom this evening, the midfielder will be forced to watch on the sidelines as he is ineligible for this fixture.
The Baggies will be looking to move three points clear of the chasing pack in the Championship by securing victory at the bet365 Stadium.
Making reference to Sawyers, Ismael has admitted that the midfielder was not guaranteed a spot in the club’s starting eleven and thus sending him to Stoke was a viable option as Michael O’Neill’s side could provide him with the opportunity to feature regularly at this level.
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail ahead of tonight’s showdown with Stoke about Sawyers, Ismael said: “Since I’m here we can see our first choice in the six positions.
“I said to Romaine that we know his quality, but we cannot promise that he will play every game and that if he had the possibility to get some more minutes at a very good club, I think it’s clear he took his chance.
“This was the only reason behind the process, nothing more.”
When you consider that Ismael has decided to use Alex Mowatt and Jake Livermore in the heart of midfield on a regular basis this season, it could be argued that loaning Sawyers out was the correct decision as he may have struggled to make an impact for West Brom if he had stayed at The Hawthorns.
With the midfielder’s contract set to expire next year, it will be intriguing to see whether Ismael is willing to include him in his long-term plans for the club.
If West Brom go on to achieve promotion to the Premier League this season, Sawyers may struggle to compete at this level as he only managed to average a WhoScored match rating of 6.12 in this division during the 2020/21 campaign.
Providing that he continues to deliver the goods for Stoke in the coming months, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if O’Neill decides to sign him on a permanent basis in 2022.