West Brom ace’s return may not be so straightforward - as youngster has thrown spanner in works
Carlos Corberan has a difficult decision to make when this West Brom star returns from injury.
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West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Josh Griffiths has made good progress since replacing the injured Alex Palmer, providing a big call for manager Carlos Corberan to make when his first-choice option returns. Griffiths was recalled from his season-long loan at Portsmouth by the Spaniard in January and is the third ‘keeper he has used during his time at the club.
Palmer is set to return from the training-ground injury he sustained before their win over Coventry City after the international break. But with Griffiths’ form so far, Palmer may find it more difficult than expected for him to come back into the starting XI immediately.
The shot-stopper has made five appearances since Palmer’s injury, picking up two clean sheets in their wins over Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic. Griffiths has bounced back after a difficult start to his senior Baggies career, as he failed to save Ben Brereton-Diaz’s free-kick late on in their draw with Blackburn Rovers.
Griffiths also appeared to struggle in the 3-2 defeat at Watford the following week but has come back into form just at the right time for his side. He produced a superb stop to deny Middlesbrough right-back Isiah Jones from point-blank range late on in their win over the league’s form team.
Against Wigan, he earnt his clean sheet in the dying minutes of the game, making a save from Theo Aasgaard as the game petered to a halt. Griffiths has grown in confidence and aside from his saves, has particularly stood out with his distribution.
The ‘keeper has completed 74% of his passes whilst between the sticks this season, earning plaudits for his calmness on the ball in the process. Corberan is another to have praised Griffiths, who caught the boss’ eye whilst playing for Portsmouth in the FA Cup third-round against Tottenham Hotspur.
“At the same time as he is developing, he is performing very well,” Corberan said. “He is 21 years old and doesn’t look like he’s 21 years old. He was the first player who caught my attention when he was out on loan – in the game I was watching in the cup against Tottenham, he was playing this game like a Premier League goalkeeper.
“Only 21 years old in front of 60,000 people, he has the abilities – he is very calm, composed and has maturity for his age. Still, we are going to work on the distribution - it is one of many things we can improve - but at the same time he is showing he can help the team.”
Despite being just 21 years of age, Griffiths has made over 100 EFL appearances after enjoying successful loan spells at Cheltenham Town, Lincoln City and - more recently - Pompey. He won the League Two trophy with the former and produced a promising performance in the FA Cup against Manchester City whilst with the Robins.
With David Button very much out of the picture in terms of selection and Palmer sidelined until the other side of the international break, it appears to be a two-horse race for the number one spot. But Griffiths has well and truly staked a claim for the shirt and will make things difficult for Palmer when he returns.