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Why West Brom should simply hold onto this rising 22-year-old starlet with their future in mind

Jack Fitzwater of West Brom in action during a pre-season friendly match back in 2018.
Jack Fitzwater of West Brom in action during a pre-season friendly match back in 2018. (Getty Images)

Why West Brom must not let go of Jack Fitzwater

According to The Athletic (h/t Birmingham Mail), young defender Jack Fitzwater is set to leave West Brom at the end of the season.

The 22-year-old centre-back is one of West Brom’s academy graduates, whose current contract with the side is set to expire at the end of this season. One of the key players in the West Brom under-23 side, Fitzwater’s rock-solid displays in defence saw him captain the side seven times out of his overall 12 Premier League 2 appearances.

Jack Fitzwater of West Brom in action during a pre-season friendly match back in 2018.
Jack Fitzwater of West Brom in action during a pre-season friendly match back in 2018. (Getty Images)

His impressive performances for West Brom’s reserve team saw him earn a senior team-appearance for the first time in January this year against Charlton Athletic.

The youngster impressed for Slaven Bilic’s side in his maiden appearance for the first-team as West Brom cruised to a 1-0 away win against Athletic. With the Championship season now set to resume after the coronavirus break, Fitzwater was handed the opportunity to train with the main team by boss Bilic.

However, the report suggests that the young academy graduate is almost certain to leave the Hawthorns once the season is completed.

Young defender Jack Fitzwater playing for Walsall last season.
Young defender Jack Fitzwater playing for Walsall last season. (Getty Images)

Fitzwater has previously had loan spells at lower division sides such as Walsall, Chesterfield, Hednesford, and Forest Green Rovers.

Fitzwater a future defender for West Brom

The Baggies, on the other hand, have enjoyed a successful campaign in the Championship so far this season. They are currently second in the league table behind leaders Leeds United by one point and are pushing for a Premier League promotion ahead of next season.

One of the main reasons for West Brom’s dominating display in the league this season has been their strong defence that has conceded just 37 goals from their overall 37 matches.

Nigerian defender Semi Ajayi has been a key player at the back for West Brom this season.
Nigerian defender Semi Ajayi has been a key player at the back for West Brom this season. (Getty Images)

Bilic has mostly preferred a centre-back partnership involving Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley this term, which has seen them emerge as the side with the third-best defensive record in the league.

The Baggies also have Ahmed Hegazy and Dara O’Shea in their ranks. However, the two have made just 20 league appearances together, suggesting that they are clearly not manager Bilic’s favourites.

That said, it would be foolish of West Brom to let go of their academy graduate Fitzwater, especially at a time when the side is looking at an almost certain promotion into the top-flight.

West Brom defender Kyle Bartley will be 30 in May next year.
West Brom defender Kyle Bartley will be 30 in May next year. (Getty Images)

Moreover, Bartley and Hegazy are nearing their thirties. And it would be safe for the side to hold onto a young defender like Fitzwater. Hence, West Brom must offer the youngster a new deal with a clear eye on the future.

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Verdict

With as many as five centre-backs including Fitzwater, it is clear that West Brom have enough depth in their backline. However, letting go of rising talent like Fitzwater will only weaken the side. He has done well for the reserves this term. Furthermore, he would offer manager Bilic plenty of options in defence next season if they manage to secure the promotion.

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