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 is delighted to see young West Brom defender Dara O’Shea earning regular caps for the Republic of Ireland.
O’Shea, 21, properly broke into the Baggies’ first-team last season, earning 17 Championship appearances as both a right-back and centre-back to help Albion win promotion to the top-flight.
The versatile Dublin-born defender has since continued to play for the West Midlands club, featuring seven times in all competitions this season.
He’s also earned his first four caps for Ireland this term, with his senior international debut coming against Finland last month before playing against England, Wales and Bulgaria in the most recent international break.
Slaven Bilic opted to drop O’Shea from his starting line-up on Saturday when West Brom lost 1-0 to Manchester United as Branislav Ivanovic returned to the side after completing a period in self-isolation.
But Phillips believes Bilic will be happy to see O’Shea continuing to develop while with the Irish side as long as he doesn’t get injured.
“Any international recognition, first and foremost, is unbelievable and getting some game-time against England will have done his confidence the world of good,” Phillips told West Brom News.
“If I was his manager, I would be hoping that one, he doesn’t get injured and two, playing international football and coming back to a struggling side can only benefit you and the player moving forward.
“It’s really great to see.”
O’Shea, like most of West Brom’s players, has struggled to shine since winning promotion to the Premier League.
The Ireland international is still young and is not quite the finished article just yet but he’ll have plenty of chances this season due to his versatility and the fact that Ahmed Hegazi was sold to Al-Ittihad.
He’s above Cedric Kipre in the pecking order and Bilic seems to like playing with a back-three against some of the stronger sides in the division.
We’ll see more of O’Shea but let’s hope he doesn’t get rusty by missing too many consecutive matches.
In other West Brom news, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes raved about this Albion outfielder in the defeat to Man United.