West Brom must build team around Taylor Gardner-Hickman this summer
This Championship season has been a largely forgettable one for anyone associated with West Brom, but it will be remembered for one thing.
While Valerien Ismael was sacked and Steve Bruce was brought in but ultimately failed, there was one man in the squad who really stood up to task and had fans on side at all times – Taylor Gardner-Hickman.
The young academy star made his league debut for the club back in November, playing as a wing-back and has shown his versatility across the campaign by playing on both flanks as well as in central midfield.
But under Bruce his role in midfield has seen him really develop and become a key part of the side, and he seemed to often carry the burden of expectation on his own young shoulders at times.
His ability to pass well helped, but it was his drive and dribbling to burst through the lines that often caught the eye as did his crossing.
In all honesty, it hasn’t been hard to be the stand-out man in this squad but doing it at 20-years-old in your maiden campaign as a professional, first-team footballer is still impressive.
Now Bruce and West Brom must plan for the future as they look to earn promotion next season, and that means making him a permanent fixture in the side and building around him.
The manager has often used him in central midfield as part of a three and reports suggest the plan is for Bruce to add more flair to that area of the pitch during the summer window.
But that can’t be allowed to disrupt his development, because he is the future of the club as it currently stands. He has earned his place in the team and embodies everything the fans want from their players.
At 20 he is now ready to push on and really make a big impact. He knows the league, knows the manager’s demands and has the skillset and consistently to deliver on a regular basis.
If this season was his taster, next season is his breakthrough campaign and if the club are to be successful he will be a major part of that.
Bruce must accept this and maximise it, otherwise they risk losing him to a club that is willing to take that punt on an ‘amazing‘ young talent.
In other West Brom news, Steve Madeley says Steve Bruce didn’t want to sign Jayson Molumby permanently for West Brom
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