Winning three of their last four games in the Championship – tripping up last time out away at St Mary’s in a slim 2-1 loss – West Bromwich Albion find themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot with only goal difference keeping them out of those top six positions currently.
Carlos Corberan’s men will hope they can respond to that Southampton setback when second-tier football returns next weekend, the Baggies facing off against Ipswich Town up next at the Hawthorns.
This game will see West Brom’s promotion credentials put under the microscope, a tough test coming up against Kieran McKenna’s free-flowing Tractor Boys full of confidence.
The Baggies will need their star players to be on top form when Ipswich travel to the West Midlands, John Swift and Brandon Thomas-Asante sticking out as key performers so far this campaign – scoring 11 goals between them in all competitions, integral to how their side operate.
However, Corberan could have an even bigger talent than Thomas-Asante on his hands in the form of young attacker Modou Faal who is currently playing for Doncaster Rovers on loan.
Faal has been electric for Donny in League Two since making the short-term switch, outscoring West Brom’s number 21 in all competitions.
The young Baggies prodigy could well take some inspiration from Thomas-Asante’s journey, the 24-year-old earning his stripes at the level Faal is now excelling in.
Faal’s career so far
The 20-year-old Gambian striker’s potent goalscoring form at youth level for the Baggies was finally rewarded with an EFL loan this summer, Faal netting 21 goals for West Brom at both U18 and U21 level over 59 appearances.
It was his goalscoring exploits for the West Midlanders during the 2022-23 Premier League 2 campaign that must have attracted admirers to pursue him on loan, scoring six times from just nine games which included a brace up against Derby County’s U21s.
Playing for the likes of AFC Fylde and Hereford in non-league – the Fylde loan seeing Faal score ten times from just 16 games – it was obvious that his ceiling was way above the non-league pitches he was making look like his playground.
It’s at Doncaster now where the imposing forward is leaving his mark on the EFL – looking more and more ready for a first-team berth at West Brom when the opportunity presents itself further down the line.
Faal’s season in numbers
Faal has been a constant bright spark for his new South Yorkshire-based employers ever since joining, an overwhelming positive in attack with Doncaster faltering elsewhere as a collective – disappointed to be sitting in 18th position after 17 games played.
The Gambian forward however always provides Rovers with an energetic force up top even on off-days, ready to run at defenders and close them down before pouncing on indecision from an opposing defender to instinctively fire home.
Doncaster’s number 36 has six goals in all competitions (five of those in League Two) which puts him behind Joe Ironside in the top scorer charts, whilst Thomas-Asante plying his trade still at Faal’s parent club West Brom has one less strike with five to his name overall.
Doncaster Rovers top scorers this season (all competitions)
Joe Ironside – 9 goals
Modou Faal – 6 goals
Harrison Biggins – 4 goals
Ben Close – 4 goals
This rich vein of goalscoring form has even seen Rovers manager Grant McCann hail Faal as a talent who could go on to be “unplayable” in the next few years, the youngster unafraid to play with flair and exuberance even as a lanky figure with the necessary skill-set to be a prolific goalscorer also in his arsenal.
In the not-so-distant future, Thomas-Asante’s set-in-stone first-team spot at the Hawthorns could be threatened by the emergence of Faal into the senior ranks.
Corberan must manage the 20-year-old’s development correctly, however, leaving him at Doncaster for now to continue flourishing before giving him later first-team opportunities.