West Bromwich Albion are set to engage in talks to sign former Sheffield United centre-back Kean Bryan according to Football Insider, with the 24-year-old being out of contract since his departure from Bramall Lane in the summer.
The Baggies are currently in the midst of a centre-back crisis after seeing Dara O’Shea join Matt Clarke on the sidelines, with the latter expected to be out for the next month with a hamstring injury.
As per Football Insider, the diagnosis is even worse for O’Shea after he picked up a serious knee injury against Portugal last Wednesday and was forced to come off in the 36th minute for the Republic of Ireland.
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He is set to be out for around four months after having a scan in Dublin in his home nation – and this leaves his domestic club with three senior options at centre-half – a complete nightmare for a side that operates with three in central defence.
Kyle Bartley, Semi Ajayi and Cedric Kipre are the last senior men standing at this stage – and could be forced to utilise the likes of Conor Townsend and Darnell Furlong in a more unnatural position in the centre if this injury crisis at the back worsens.
However, they look to be on the prowl for a replacement and have seemingly identified Bryan, who made 13 Premier League appearances last season, as a potentially suitable candidate to come in and provide some much-needed depth in the centre.
He was the subject of interest from Watford, Fulham, Swansea City and the Baggies earlier this summer, with former club Sheffield United also offering him a contract before withdrawing it after seeing the 24-year-old continue to stall on a new deal.
After spending over two months without a club, he may now have found his next destination if all parties can agree a wage package.
Dipping into the free-agent market is a wise move from Valerien Ismael who will want to see his team continue to fight for the Championship table – but may not be able to do this without adequate options at the heart of defence.
The Frenchman will be reluctant to change his system as well to accommodate the fact he has fewer options to work with in the centre – so entering negotiations with a player who plied his trade in the Premier League last term isn’t the worst idea.
West Brom’s reluctance to spend heavily in the summer also allows them to make this move, even if they have to pay slightly over the odds to bring him in amid previous interest from other clubs.
However, the key word is ‘previous’. With no clubs taking him on board for the 2021/22 campaign, he will probably be willing to accept a reasonable wage package just to get back into action after failing to find a new side before the start of the campaign.
And he would not only help in the short-term so Ismael can retain his three-at-the-back system, but will also provide competition when the injured duo return and with that, help the first-team squad to maintain their performance levels at The Hawthorns.
The 24-year-old may also be a longer-term alternative to Clarke, who has only joined on a season-long loan deal.