Conor Gallagher has been one of the bright spots in a tumultuous season for West Brom but we think he could be primed for a positional change.
The 21-year-old has made 17 of his 18 Premier League starts for Albion as a central midfielder [WhoScored] but he could be set for a slightly deeper role in the coming weeks and months.
After Semi Ajayi was sent off early on against Burnley on Saturday Big Sam reverted to a two in midfield with Gallagher paired alongside Okay Yokuslu and this could be the way forward to add some structure behind a more attacking front four.
According to Wyscout Gallagher is involved in 10.32 defensive duels per 90, ranking him eighth in the Premier League for this metric, and only five players have made more in total than his 198.
This is even more impressive considering his 1727 minutes of action trumps all others in the top 10, some of whom have not breached the 1200 barrier so could see their figures decrease with more games.
His success rate stands at 55.1% which shows he comes off as victor more times than not and he upped this slightly v Burnley [57%].
Gallagher also makes 4.06 interceptions and 6.57 recoveries per 90.
He has the passing range required to pick players out at range as evidenced in his 75% long ball accuracy v Burnley and he is a neat player in possession with a 82.8% overall pass completion.
His 68.63% long pass success rate puts him in the top 30 Premier League performers.
Furthermore, he has received more yellow cards than any other player in the division, which could be seen in two ways.
Gallagher could be deemed as rash and a poor tackler in some quarters, while others may choose to portray him as a combative midfielder who will do anything to come out victorious over his opponents.
We prefer to consider him as the latter and it is for this reason that we think he could be perfect to slot in alongside Yokuslu in a defensive midfield pairing in a 4-2-3-1 formation for the remainder of the current campaign.
One thing is for sure – we need wins, and fast.
As such we must include as many attacking options as possible and position them close to Mbaye Diagne at the top of the West Brom attack.
Robert Snodgrass and Matheus Pereira are players who prefer coming in from the right or operating in central positions so they must be included there, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles proved v Burnley that he can do the job on the left-hand side, while the returning Grady Diangana is another exciting option there.
With Gallagher and Yokuslu at the base of the midfield Albion should be secure in the knowledge that they have two solid players who possess the tenacity and defensive discipline to allow the frontmen to do their jobs.
This would allow, in particular, Pereira the ability to float across the forward line as our main game-changer.
It is certainly an option that Big Sam must consider as we chase three points against Brighton on Saturday.
In other West Brom news, another development in the Kamil Grosicki saga.