By George Overhill

11th May, 2022 | 2:40pm

West Brom boss Steve Bruce raves about criticised man Adam Reach as he finishes season on a high

Steve Bruce has heaped praise on West Brom winger Adam Reach after the versatile first-year Baggies player finished the season on a high.

The 29-year-old scored a wonderful lob for the team’s second in the 4-0 win over Barnsley on the final day (7 May), but came in for criticism earlier in the year when played in attacking midfield rather than wide.

He has featured on both wings, in the middle of midfield, as a wing-back and even as a centre-back in the win over Reading (11 December), across 36 appearances in an Albion shirt since arriving on a free transfer in the summer.

Bruce said of his goal against Barnsley, via Express and Star: “There’s not many with the ability on the pitch to score a goal like that.

“Off-balance, the run through and the execution was excellent.”

He went on to espouse his admiration for the player overall, while highlighting his versatility, saying: “Adam Reach is a really, really top class pro.

“He’s a really good lad to have in your dressing room, he can play a few positions.

“You never have a problem with someone like Adam Reach.

“And on top of that he’s got good ability.

“I played him wide right at Sheffield Wednesday.

“Against Barnsley he played wide left. He’s a wide player.

“Is he a wing-back? Possibly.

“But we have got good players in wide areas with Reach, (Grady) Diangana and (Matt) Phillips.

“It’s something to build on.”

Under the radar

It is the curse of a player who is capable in various positions that while their manager tends to love them for the number of problems they solve, fans and media often underrate them.

Rather than ever appearing as a standout at any one position they will be seen as a jack of all trades, even if they perform particularly well.

Perhaps Reach is unsung in the Baggies team, although to be unsung in a squad that has lacked such inspiration isn’t such a badge of honour.

Bruce has started to formulate the squad for next season, informing Andy Carroll he doesn’t fit, but clearly feels that his wide men suit the style he wants the team to play.

The lob the former Sheffield Wednesday man scored on the last day was an insight to the future Albion side as it was prospective new number one goalkeeper David Button’s excellent clipped pass that he ran on to for the finish, even if the keeper’s heavy touch just preceding it went unpunished.

Whether the former Newcastle boss wishes to play with a back four or a five it looks safe to say that Reach will feature heavily next year, and clearly has the admiration of his manager.

In other West Brom news, the club are tracking a potential free agent whose current contract talks are “on ice” while he is involved in play-off football.

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