Missing out on the Championship playoff spots last season by just three points, Carlos Corberan’s West Bromwich Albion will hope history doesn’t repeat itself again with the Baggies just outside the playoff picture once again 16 games into the new second-tier campaign.
The Baggies left the door open for Sunderland to leapfrog above them in the league standings last match, West Brom losing narrowly at St Mary’s to Russell Martin’s Southampton 2-1 to surrender their grasp on sixth position to Tony Mowbray’s Black Cats.
Personnel at the Hawthorns in the form of John Swift and Grady Diangana will hope they can lead from the front to push the West Midlanders further up the division, Corberan’s men desperate to break their now three-season stay in the second tier to return to facing off against English football’s elite.
The Baggies manager could even gamble on picking young talent Tom Fellows ahead of senior faces to spearhead a sustained promotion push, the 20-year-old tipped for a big future in the game.
The one-time Crawley Town loanee has been unleashed onto the Championship sparingly by the Spaniard this season, showing glimpses of his exceptional creativity in short-lived cameos.
Tom Fellows’ statistics this season
Fellows’ electric performances at youth level for West Brom have more than warranted Corberan giving him brief cameo appearances at senior level now, the 20-year-old netting 14 goals in total for the Baggies at U18 and U21 level.
Handed his first ever first-team appearance in the second tier versus Reading in 2021, Fellows has gone on to feature in the senior ranks 14 more times.
Yet to register a goal or an assist in the men’s team at the Hawthorns, Fellows has nonetheless impressed in the second tier when substituted on.
A brief 15-minute spell off the bench versus QPR saw the youngster create a big opening for a teammate to increase the Baggies lead as per Sofascore, strolling past his marker with ease to then tee up Jed Wallace who squandered the opportunity.
Corberan could well begin to tinker with his regimented first eleven to accommodate the 20-year-old to start more matches, displacing the likes of Matt Phillips and Diangana as a result.
It could well be a conundrum that the Spanish manager has to come to terms with soon, Fellows linked with a move away from the Hawthorns in recent weeks owing to his contract running out at the end of the season.
Fellow’s future at West Brom
West Brom won’t want to have another case of the one that got away, Louie Barry leaving the Baggies as a youngster for Barcelona a notable departee.
However, that situation could be repeated here with reports suggesting that the youth product turned infrequent first-teamer is subject to interest from abroad, Football Insider suggesting that Bundesliga outfits Werder Bremen and FC Augsburg are interested in West Brom’s number 31.
There’s also interest from West Brom’s promotion rivals in the form of Southampton and Leicester City, the Baggies hoping that they can bat away any potential bids by giving their young talent more starting opportunities in the weeks to come.
Fellows could stake a claim to be Corberan’s starting man down the left wing, an unnatural slot for the 20-year-old to occupy but one he could fill with a lack of options available to his manager – Adam Reach sidelined with an injury currently down that flank.
West Brom will do everything in their power to keep Fellows at the club, an emerging young talent who looks as if he can only get better if nurtured and developed with patience at the Hawthorns.