Young guns on standby
Bryan Robson has been forced to draft in five untried young pros for
tonight's (Tuesday, ko 8pm) FA Cup replay at Reading as his injury
problems continue to mount.
Rob Elvins, Jared Hodgkiss, Rob Davies, Jeff Forsyth and Stuart
Nicholson - all yet to make a competitive senior appearance for the club
- have been included in the Baggies' depleted squad.
Skipper Kevin Campbell, Paul Robinson and Steve Watson suffered knocks
in ten-man Albion's gutsy 1-0 win at Wigan on Sunday and are injury
doubts for the Madejski Stadium rematch.
Should the experienced trio miss out, Robson will be without TEN
first-team regulars for the Reading tie.
That has prompted the Albion manager to include strikers Elvins and
Nicholson, full-back Hodgkiss, centre-half Forsyth and midfielder Davies
in his travelling party.
Hodgkiss, aged 19, and Forsyth and Nicholson, both 18, have only signed
professional forms in the past fortnight.
They have been handed senior squad numbers 28, 31 and 32 respectively
and follow in the footsteps of Elvins, 19, and Davies, 18, who signed
pro contracts at the end of last term.
All five have figured regularly for Albion's Academy team and reserves
Robson's injury problems saw him name Wales youth international Davies
on the bench for the first time at Wigan.
Robson will again be without Neil Clement (fracture to side of head),
Kanu, Diomansy Kamara (both African Nations Cup duty), Thomas Gaardsoe,
Zoltan Gera (both groin) and Geoff Horsfield (hamstring).
And Darren Moore joins them on the sidelines as he serves a one-match
ban for his JJB Stadium red card.
Academy coach Craig Shakespeare is full of sympathy for boss Robson's
injury woes but is pleased to see some of his young guns linking up with
the senior squad.
"It's been a great month for us with Jeff, Stuart and Jared being
awarded pro contracts," said Shakespeare.
"They are thoroughly deserved and we also had Rob on the bench on
Sunday. We've now got five players in the squad tonight which is great
reward for the boys but also the Academy as a whole.It just shows that
if we can produce good footballers they will get a chance at this club.
I've told them to look forward to it and show their hunger. Hopefully,
this is the start of a long professional career for these lads at