By Danny Wright

15th Mar, 2020 | 11:39am

'Huge blow' - Exclusive: Phillips reacts as West Brom staff member reportedly quits

We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…

Kevin Phillips has admitted that Steve Hopcroft’s exit from West Brom is a “huge blow” for the club after he reportedly handed in his resignation on Friday.

According to the Birmingham Mail, the Baggies’ head of academy recruitment has quit his role at The Hawthorns despite spending many years in the job.

Hopcroft played a crucial role in the rise of players like Saido Berahino, Jonathan Leko and Rekeem Harper but it seems that West Brom will now have to find a replacement for the recruitment expert.

More annoyingly, it seems that local rivals Aston Villa are set to pounce on Hopcroft, with the Birmingham Mail adding in another report that they are keen to acquire his services.

West Brom have seen a huge change to their youth staff in the last 12 months with technical director Luke Dowling ringing some unpopular changes at the club’s training ground.

While it remains to be seen why Hopcroft has left the Baggies, ex-striker Phillips maintains that losing him – and potentially losing him to Villa – is a kick in the teeth.

“It’s a huge blow,” Phillips told West Brom News.

“When you’ve brought through the sort of players [like Berahino, Leko and Harper], and of course West Brom are a wealthy club, but they still need to rely on bringing players through and trying to get them through to the first team.

“When you lose someone of that calibre, who has a record of doing that, it’s always a blow. And also, to lose him to a rival is going to hurt a little bit as well.

“That’s a blow. My natural reaction would be that it’s a shame but these things happen in football and there will be a reason behind it.

“He could be leaving to join a Championship side and the team he’s leaving could, hopefully, be a Premier League side.”

Hopcroft has done a great job at West Brom and it is a shame to see him leave.

Dowling’s changes better pay off in the future because it has been hard to see the foundations of the clubs academy torn out over the last year.

In other West Brom news, Darren Bent is stunned that West Ham didn’t recall Grady Diangana in January.