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'He is the present and future of West Brom' - Bilic hails Irish youngster O'Shea

Dara O’Shea has impressed in a new role at right-back in recent games.

West Bromwich Albion's Dara O'Shea.
West Bromwich Albion's Dara O'Shea.
Image: Adam Davy

WEST BROMWICH ALBION boss Slaven Bilic has praised the performances of young Irish defender Dara O’Shea.

The 21-year-old has impressed in a new role at right-back this season despite being primarily viewed as a centre-half. 

He initially deputised in the position during FA Cup ties against West Ham and Charlton Athletic before the lockdown.

The former St Kevin’s Boys player was then a key figure in recent Championship victories over Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City, prompting Bilic to hail his maturity.

“Dara is clever – he thinks about the game, nothing surprises him,” Bilic told the Express & Star. “He has a good touch but he still keeps things simple. But he does have that good touch, he could complicate things but he doesn’t.

“He is very mature for his age. But, to be fair, I expect it from him. As a young player you can have your ups and downs but he is very mature.

“He has got a plan no matter where he is – whether with or without the ball. For both phases of the game he has got a plan,” continued the ex-Croatia boss.

“He thinks I’m going to do this because of that. Or I am going to do that because of this.

“And that’s easy to say but for a player to have that – not every player has that but Dara has. The other things like motivation, focus, that little of self-confidence that you need – I saw that with Dara in the first week of training.

“He wanted to impress us straight away.”

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West Brom are on course to seal a return to the Premier League, sitting just one point behind league leaders Leeds with five games left to play.

Bilic says he sees the Ireland U21 international continuing to play at both centre-back and right-full, comparing him with versatile defender Nathan Ferguson who almost sealed a move to Crystal Palace in January.

“I think Dara will continue to do both. He is a bit like Nathan – they are not the same type of player, but he is like Nathan in terms of his quality and because he has a bit of everything.

“I put Nathan as a right-back, but I think he would have done the same job at centre-back and the same goes for Dara.

“I said ages ago Dara is the reason we only bought in one centre-half in the summer. We lost three centre-backs, but we brought in only Semi (Ajayi). Why? Because of Dara.

“Then we put him at right-back for the West Ham and Charlton games – the cup games. We talked to him, we showed him a few things – but with Dara everything is no problem.

“He is the present and future of West Brom.” 

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Kevin O'Brien

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