Valerien Ismael: Taylor Gardner-Hickman to get more West Brom playing time

Head coach Valerien Ismael says he expects Taylor Gardner-Hickman to get more playing time during the second half of the season.

 Taylor Gardner-Hickman  (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Taylor Gardner-Hickman (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

The 20-year-old, who signed a new four-and-a-half-year deal with the club last week, is enjoying an impressive breakthrough year at The Hawthorns.

Gardner-Hickman has made seven appearances for the Baggies so far this season – impressing at right wing-back, left wing-back and central midfield.

And Ismael expects him to continue adding his appearance total.

"Yes I think so," Ismael said when asked if Gardner-Hickman will get more playing time as the season goes on.

"If he continues to progress and to show his quality he will get his chance.

"He has proven already that he is more than a back-up player.

"Taylor has a lot of our principles. He is dynamic, he has the right mentality, he is fearless and he listens.

"I think those are his strengths and we have seen them in the games he has played – he always has an impact on the game.

"He is flexible for us, he can play two positions – at wing-back and in the six-position, he is a big assist for the club.

"It is very important to give him a long-term contract and for the club to keep our good young players rather than see them leave for other clubs."

Gardner-Hickman first joined Albion when he was just seven years old.

And Ismael is determined to see more local players come through the academy and into the first-team.

"A very important part of our job is to create a pathway for the academy players," the boss continued.

"To create that link between the academy and the first-team – in terms of formation, style of play and chances to give young players.

"Taylor is the face of the new way. We want an identity where we build around players who come from the area.

"It’s a great sign for everyone that with Taylor we have one player that fulfils that purpose."

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