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'We all love him' - West Brom deal on the table for Ireland U21 defender

Baggies manager Slaven Bilic continues to sing the praises of promising 20-year-old Dara O’Shea.

Dara O'Shea tangling with Josh Davison during West Bromwich Albion's FA Cup third-round win over Charlton Athletic.
Dara O'Shea tangling with Josh Davison during West Bromwich Albion's FA Cup third-round win over Charlton Athletic.
Image: Daniel Hambury

WEST BROMWICH ALBION are keen to keep Dara O’Shea at the club, with manager Slaven Bilic confirming that the young Irish defender has been offered a new contract.

O’Shea has made the first-team breakthrough this season for the Championship leaders, who he joined from St Kevin’s Boys at the age of 16.

The centre-back, who will turn 21 in March, made his debut in the Carabao Cup in August. A first league appearance followed last month, with the Dubliner’s most recent outing coming in the FA Cup third-round victory over Charlton Athletic.

“He has been offered a new contract, definitely,” Bilic said, as reported by the Express & Star. “I have said from the start, from July, that he is the present and the future of the club.

“I love Dara O’Shea. We all love him. But forget how nice he is as a kid, I love Dara as a football player.

“In the summer, we lost three players in that position – [Craig] Dawson, [Mason] Holgate and [Tosin] Adarabioyo, plus [Ahmed] Hegazi had surgery. But we only brought in one. The club wanted to bring in more, and the only reason we didn’t was Dara.

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“From day one, he showed dedication, motivation, readiness to learn and, more than anything, potential and quality.”

As well as progressing with his club, O’Shea has become a key player for his country at U21 level. He featured in 10 of the 12 games played by Stephen Kenny’s side in 2019, taking the captain’s armband in the absence of Jayson Molumby for the win in Armenia.

O’Shea, who impressed on loan with League Two side Exeter City last season, also displayed his versatility by filling in at right-back in West Brom’s aforementioned 1-0 win at Charlton.

Bilic added: “We wanted to test him in that right-back position. With the injury to Nathan [Ferguson], that position has become a bit more fragile – or not as secure.

“I had no doubts but you still have to see him there. It was only theory, it was only I think you can do it but he proved us right.”

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Paul Dollery

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