Nigel Spackman: Allardyce watches Rico Richards as West Brom Under-18s play Aston Villa

Nigel Spackman claims Sam Allardyce attended the West Brom Under-18s clash against Aston Villa on Friday night to “especially” watch young attacker Rico Richards.

Albion played Villa in the FA Youth Cup semi-final at Villa Park and Richards, 17, was among a number of impressive young stars to play in the fixture.

After starting the match brightly, BT Sport pundit Spackman hailed Richards for his ability on the ball but also claimed Allardyce might have his eyes on him, and other teenagers for his Championship squad next season.

“He’s got good balance and good centre of gravity. He can go either way, outside, inside,” said the ex-Chelsea and Liverpool midfielder in the first half of the match on BT Sport 2 on Friday night.

Spackman added: “Big Sam Allardyce is here watching all of these players here tonight but especially [Richards].

“With them getting relegated, some of these younger players might get a chance in the Championship when they couldn’t get a chance in the Premier League.

“It could be a good breeding ground for these players next season and make their full debuts for West Brom.”

Richards destined for greatness?

Richards has been in great form for West Brom’s Under-18s this season, scoring six goals in 13 appearances in the Under-18s Premier League and FA Youth Cup.

The young forward, who can play just about anywhere in the attack including the striker role, has also played 13 times in Premier League 2 for West Brom’s Under-23s. Unfortunately, he hasn’t scored at that level this season.

Richards is still young at the age of 17 so there’s still a lot of time for him to impress at The Hawthorns.

It remains to be seen whether or not Allardyce will be in charge at the Baggies next season with a reported break clause in his contract now active with the club relegated from the Premier League.

However, Richards is someone who’s been on the bench a couple of times for the senior side and that could become more likely in the second-tier as Albion look to possibly save money and promote from within.

In other West Brom news, this 23-year-old could be released by Albion next month with a Championship move on the cards.

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