Tony Pulis has declared West Brom’s current crop of academy products the most talented he’s seen while in charge of that club.
The Baggies chief handed England Under-17 striker Jonathan Leko his Premier League debut in the goalless draw at Sunderland on Saturday.
And Pulis believes there are more youngsters coming through at the club’s Halfords Lane academy with the Welshman hoping to give more of them a chance in the near future.
He said: “The academy has got some really talented players. The problem is that the players at West Brom have not been farmed out and allowed to go and play either non-league football or league football.
“For Jon to play today having come out of 21s football or 18s football, it’s too big a jump. We have to loan our players out.
“It’s the best club I’ve been at in respect of quality of talent but it’s no good having that quality and talent if it’s not tested in correct places.
“It’s like shadow boxing, I’ve seen some great fighters, when they’ve got their headguards on. Then they go into rings and take their headguards off and they’re different people.
“That’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to harden these up and make sure they’re resilient enough.
“They have to understand they’re not just playing for themselves, they’re playing for the team, they’re playing for the supporters, and they’re playing for the person upstairs who’s paying their wages.
“That’s a massive part of development and our players in the academy need that.”