By Joe Ellis

29th Apr, 2022 | 11:40am

Early West Brom team news v Reading: Conor Townsend out, Zac Ashworth could be involved

West Brom will be without first-team left-back Conor Townsend for their trip to Reading on Saturday with the Englishman expecting a baby any day.

The 29-year-old has almost been an ever-present for the Baggies this season under both Valerien Ismael and Steve Bruce but will not be heading to the Madejski Stadium with the rest of the squad to stay at home with his pregnant partner.

Steve Bruce has said, via BBC Radio West Midlands Sport on Twitter, that 19-year-old academy graduate Zac Ashworth is likely to take his place in the squad having made just one appearance for Albion in his career, coming in the FA Cup against Brighton earlier this season.

Thankfully for the Baggies boss though, there are no other new injury or unavailability concerns for him to worry about so he could pick a broadly similar side to the one that lumbered to a 0-0 draw at home to Coventry last weekend if he wanted.

First of many

This might be a move that has been forced upon Bruce given the lack of depth at left-back but it should actually become the foundation of his future at the club.

The Albion academy has plenty of talented teenagers trying to catch the eye and break into the senior setup and Ashworth could be the latest one to follow in the footsteps of Taylor Gardner-Hickman this season.

But there is no reason why he should be the last because West Brom now have nothing to play for whatsoever so the boss should be giving these youngsters their moment in the sun and seeing who impresses and who doesn’t.

We could have the next great thing just playing academy football but we won’t know until we see them in the first team.

If Bruce has any kind of vision for the future rather than the right now, then he would have already given a couple of chances to these kids when Albion were in freefall back in February.

In other West Brom news, we think the boss needs to backtrack on a demand of his players if he isn’t going to follow it himself.

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