By George Hartley

31st Dec, 2021 | 2:10pm

Steve Madeley hopes to see Gardner-Hickman 'playing regularly' for West Brom

Steve Madeley has laid bare his hopes of seeing West Brom youngster Taylor Gardner-Hickman play more after he signed a new deal on Wednesday.

Gardner-Hickman put pen to paper on a new four-and-a-half-year contract on his 20th birthday after impressing Albion fans in what has been a breakthrough season for the youngster at The Hawthorns.

Madeley, who reports on West Brom for The Athletic, is now pushing for manager Valérien Ismaël to include the versatile academy product in matches more regularly. The reporter also highlighted West Brom’s success producing young players.

Madeley said: “Worth noting that Albion’s academy has developed good players for a while now but the most successful ones – [Chris] Wood, [Kemar] Roofe, [Tyler] Roberts etc – have succeeded after leaving. Hopefully, time to get some playing regularly for WBA.”

Fountain of youth

Madeley is right to highlight West Brom’s previous success in churning out youngsters as a reason for the manager to give Gardner-Hickman more minutes.

Darnell Furlong has maintained his spot as first-choice under Ismaël as he was under previous managers. However, more time playing for Gardner-Hickman will prove to be excellent for the youngster’s development.

The new deal, signed on the defender’s 20th birthday on 30 December, was a massive vote of confidence from the club. The academy graduate was congratulated by teammates Conor Townsend and Robert Snodgrass on Instagram. And rightly so.

It is surely unlikely that Gardner-Hickman will be loaned out in January. The right-back has proven his worth when he has played and will definitely be important for Ismaël as his side push for automatic promotion in the New Year.

As Madeley highlighted, Kemar Roofe, Chris Wood and Tyler Roberts have gone on to have success at other clubs since their departures from West Brom.

Madeley was also quick to point out that Dara O’Shea, despite earning more minutes this campaign, only joined the academy at 16. With a positive crop of talent emerging, it is imperative that West Brom make themselves a sustainable club and push on to the next level.

Now is the time to keep a promising youngster close and give them what they need to succeed at West Brom.