Pulis wants half team to be homegrown within two years

Tyler Roberts, Jonathan Leko and Sam Field with Head of Academy Recruitment Stephen Hopcroft

Tyler Roberts, Jonathan Leko and Sam Field with Head of Academy Recruitment Stephen Hopcroft

WEST BROM boss Tony Pulis says he wants half his team to be homegrown within the next two years - even though they have been hampered by playing Academy football “far, far too long”.

Sam Field, 19, started in midfield for the Baggies in their opening day win over Bournemouth - and was replaced by 17-year-old Rekeem Harper after 70 minutes. Jonathan Leko, 18, and Kane Wilson, 17, were both on the bench.

Pulis said: "We had more youngsters involved than any other club in the Premier League on the opening day of the season. In a couple of years' time - after my watch or maybe even on my watch - the Albion supporters will hopefully see half the team as local boys.

“That's what I want, that's my aim, because the talent in the Academy is fantastic. They've just fallen down on the most important thing and that is throwing the kids into the pool and getting them to swim. The big thing about the football club is they've kept their young players in Academy football for far, far too long.

“Those kids need to go out and play proper football. Rekeem, Sam, all of them, there's a real good group that need to get out and learn.”

What was not entirely clear was whether Pulis intends to give Field and Harper more experience in his team, or on loan elsewhere. He has already signed Gareth Barry from Everton and intends to make further signings before the transfer window closes.

Albion have already rejected season-long loan offers for Field from Norwich, Derby, Barnsley and Sheffield United, according to the Express and Star newspaper. Many of the club’s ‘second-tier’ youngsters have been sent out on loan.

Defender Kyle Howkins joined Cambridge United, centre-back Shaun Donnellan went to Walsall, striker Tahvon Campbell to Solihull Moors anddefender Jack Fitzwater to Forest Green Rovers.

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