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U23s boss Jamie Smith: West Brom proud of Checkatrade Trophy win

By Joseph Masi | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

He guided Albion to their first ever victory in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Alex Bradley scored in Tuesday’s victory

And under-23 boss Jamie Smith believes West Brom’s youngsters are benefitting massively from playing in the competition.

For the past three years, Premier League and Championship clubs with category one academies have been able to enter teams into the controversial tournament.

But it wasn’t until earlier this week the Baggies picked up their first win in the competition – with goals from Finn Azaz and Alex Bradley securing a 2-1 victory over Blackpool.

One reason the wait for that win went on so long was Albion’s policy of allowing their younger players to go out on loan.

The under-23s, who were managed by Jimmy Shan last season, had 13 players go out on a temporary basis. But Smith feels their departure last year helped the younger players that were left behind.

“I am proud we got that first win,” Smith said. “Last year was a tough year for Jimmy. But I think I am reaping the benefits of that now.

“He had 13 players out on loan. We were young last year and it was tough.

“But that experience has definitely helped us this season.

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“The lads have recognised that, they have developed their game understanding and game management from going through that experience.

“They have learnt how to deal with the physicality a lot better. We have seen a massive improvement in them.

“For us it’s a fantastic competition because our lads are coming up against first-team players. That is where they want to get to.

“Against Blackpool, they are playing a different type of football. They had to deal with different styles.

“They were having to deal with balls coming into our box. There were plenty of long balls from back to front. They don’t always get that in under-23 football. Those are the lessons you get against players who have been in the league and know what it’s about.

“It’s the tricks of the trade so to speak that the boys have to deal with.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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