Evan Ferguson tipped it to be in contention for the Premier League spot

Interim first-team head coach Andrew Crofts believes the 17-year-old Ireland forward is “less than a million miles away” from a top-flight commitment.

And he believes regular playing time in the U21s can only help.

Ferguson scored a hat-trick for the 21ers as they recently won 4-1 at Leicester City.

That outing on a Saturday afternoon meant he was absent the following afternoon when the same clubs met at senior level.

He was back in the thick of things two nights later as Albion’s Under-21s lost 2-1 at the Papa John’s Trophy in Colchester.

Crofts is ideally placed to assess Ferguson’s progress and suitability for senior football as Under-21 manager, now tasked with the senior role pending a replacement for Graham Potter.

He told The Argus: “Ev is in a really good place. He gets a bit of both, which is nice.

“He was in and around the first team in terms of a lot of training and then the cup games and a couple of squads.

“It’s about making sure he gets his playing time regularly to develop.

“Obviously scoring the hat-trick against Leicester was great – and it was a hat-trick.

“And then playing 90 on Tuesday is also great for his development.

“It’s that delicate balance of what Evan needs.

“He’s in a really good place.

“He’s progressing well and just making sure his playing time stays where it is and he’s continuing to push to see where he can get in and around the first-team squad.”

Ferguson showed he’s more than a goalscorer when he played in the Carabao Cup tie at Forest Green.

His very skillful conclusion from close range completed the 3-0 win.

But even then he caught the eye with his all-round game, falling deep and winning the ball.

Crofts said: “He has many different strengths.

“For a 17-year-old, he’s physically very good at handling that side of the game.

“He’s a very strong boy.

“He has a wonderful finishing technique.

“He knows how to find the back of the net in many different ways.

“And he can also link the game in terms of connection with midfield and wingers.

“His understanding of the game for such a young player is very high.

“Of course he knows that there is a lot to do.

“As a person, he’s very grounded and really driven to get where he wants to be.

“He’s developing really well.”

So, the multi-million dollar question.

Potter said before he left he would like to add a Danny Welbeck guy to his team.

It remains to be seen what the new boss thinks of it.

But most managers like a powerful, mobile, intelligent target man.

They all like a player who can put the ball in the net.

So Crofts was asked how close Ferguson is to playing a role in the Prem.

He replied: “I don’t think he’s a million miles away.

“I think he has shown that he has a good chance of being in and around the squad.

“The squad is very strong and the competition at the front is really strong.

“It still needs a bit of work but I think if he continues to develop well there could be chances sometime this season.

“He just needs to focus on what he’s doing.

“If he plays for the 21ers and learns his trade there and scores goals, that’s really important so that he has a better chance of getting closer to the team.”

https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/21395950.evan-ferguson-tipped-compete-premier-league-place/?ref=rss Evan Ferguson tipped it to be in contention for the Premier League spot

Fry Electronics Team

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