West Bromwich Albion confirmed the signing of Erik Pieters on Tuesday, but Zac Ashworth may not be delighted with his arrival.
Pieters brings a wealth of Premier League and Championship experience to the squad, but the 34-year-old also brings added competition for Ashworth when he was already struggling to get into the first-team.
The 20-year-old made two Championship appearances last season and was in the matchday squad on three other occasions, but he’s failed to build on his breakthrough. Ashworth is still in the U21s and last featured in their 3-3 draw with Sunderland reserves, but Pieters has already amassed more minutes in the first-team than the former.
He made his debut in Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to Birmingham City while Ashworth failed to even make the bench. The 20-year-old still has great potential but may now need a loan move away to get competitive football.
With 28 appearances for the U18s and 23 appearances for the U21s, Ashworth has outgrown youth football. And he’s highly unlikely to dethrone Conor Townsend or Pieters at left-back this season, so his future is uncertain.
Steve Bruce overlooking Ashworth to bring in Pieters is evidence that some youngsters don’t quite have his trust, so the January transfer window might be his saviour.