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West Brom manager Slaven Bilic has remained coy about Chris Willock’s first-team choices as he is yet to feature for the first team since joining the club.
What’s he said?
On deadline day, the Croatian signed four new players, including Charlie Austin and the electric duo of Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira, but he also brought in Chris Willock from Benfica.
The 21-year-old signed a five-year deal with the Portuguese giants back in 2017 and has only ever featured for the B team, where he bagged 14 goals in 64 appearances, per Transfermarkt.
The former Arsenal winger is only on loan at the club, so it’s quite strange not to have seen him feature yet this season, though the Baggies chief has commented on the 21-year-old for the first time.
Speaking to the Express & Star, Bilic said:
“He is training with us. I feel a bit sorry for him because he is a top talent.
“But at the moment in those positions we are not only well covered but well covered with players who are playing really well and there is not enough space to play all of them.
“We are rotating a few players – five for three positions.
“But I spoke with him and he has to continue to work hard, play for the under-23s and wait for his chance.”
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Victim of WBA’s success
Willock was clearly brought in as Bilic felt Albion lacked suitable options in attack, but because of the breakthroughs of both Diangana and Pereira, he’s not been given his opportunity.
He’s also got to compete with Matty Phillips, who could well be on for a career-best year.
Therefore, it seems quite unfortunate that whatever he does for the U23 squad is only going to be in vain, especially if the promising pair mentioned above continue at the rate they are.
Combined the two have netted six goals and provided seven assists, with neither starting more than seven matches, per WhoScored.
The only glimmer of hope that Willock has is if Diangana gets recalled to West Ham in January, which in itself would be a devastating blow to the Baggies’ promotion hopes – the pressure that would come with stepping up into his shoes may be too much, but only time will tell.