Kevin Phillips has warned West Bromwich Albion that they could face issues if Sam Johnstone doesn’t sign a new deal at the Hawthorns soon.
The 28-year-old shot-stopper was linked with a Premier League move throughout the summer window but remained with the Baggies despite their relegation to the Championship.
Johnstone has been a key player under Valerien Ismael in 2021/22, featuring eight times and keeping three clean sheets, but his contract is set to expire in the summer and he is yet to agree new terms.
Speaking to West Brom News, Phillips suggested the uncertainty could distract the keeper and have a negative impact on his performances, as well as meaning there could be fresh speculation when the January window opens.
He said: “January comes around fast. It’s only three months away and you’re into January so before you know it, it’ll be on top of you.
“If you haven’t got it sorted then he can talk to people and behind the scenes, things will be happening.
“It’s a slight concern.
“You don’t want that going on when you want to challenge for promotion, you don’t want an upheaval for your main goalkeeper.
“You’d like to get that new deal done as quickly as you can as long as the player wants to stay and wants to get it done.
“From my experience, I’d want that done now so it doesn’t distract away from what they’re wanting to do.”
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Previous reports have suggested that Johnstone’s new deal is likely to include a release clause should Albion fail to win promotion this term.
Ismael’s side are currently second in the table, with 19 points from nine games, after their 2-1 win over QPR on Friday evening.
Have West Brom ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?
It’s hard to argue with Phillips here, the longer that Johnstone goes without signing a new contract the more speculation there is likely to be.
If Albion enter January without having agreed new terms with their keeper, they could end up losing him for a cut-price fee while overseas clubs would also be able to sign him on a new pre-contract.
We don’t know what stage the talks over a new deal are at but there have been recent suggestions that they’re ongoing in the background.
As the end of the year creeps closer, you’d expect the club to shift more focus onto getting the situation wrapped up.