Under-23s interim-coach Andrew Crofts is proud of the leadership qualities Teddy Jenks is showing.
The 19-year-old netted twice in the 3-0 victory over Southampton on Friday – taking his tally to seven Premier League 2 goals for the campaign – and was a key presence throughout what was a straightforward win for Albion.
“He is starting to learn how he can use his voice - young players are generally quite quiet,” Crofts said. “He is being vocal, but not in a shouty way for the sake of it. He’s getting across good information to his teammates, knowing when the lads need that bit of firing up, or showing his leadership through actions like a high intensity press. It’s something that rubs off on the players around him. That becomes infectious and ignites something in the team.
“Teddy has got the ability to do that, we’re just trying to draw even more out of him. When he does it, it’s to a really good level and he knows we believe in him.
“That was my conversation with him when Shannon [Ruth] and I took over – we wanted to lean on Teddy to influence the game as much as he could and he has really bought into that. He’s a great kid, he wants to improve all the time and it’s about trying to ignite something in him where he can perform like that as often as he can.”
Having been a captain during his playing career, Crofts is keen to pass on as much of his experience to the Albion youngster.
“I have got a really strong relationship with Teddy, he is the captain and, having been a captain myself, I want to try and educate him on how you want to lead on and off the pitch.
“He’s a very intelligent young man who cares and thinks deeply about the game. He’s been really mindful of how he can influence the team and he has certainly done that. in the last three games. It’s about him affecting the game as often as he can and he is doing that.
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“With the two goals against Southampton, it was a really productive, industrious performance in midfield that allowed him to have that impact.”
The victory at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre over Saints brought an end to a winless run of five matches.
“We knew the game was going to be one of real high intensity, Southampton are very hard working and we knew they were going to press really aggressively. The information we gave the boys they executed really well. We quickly found that little bit of composure which helped us dominate.
“We were very strong in the first half, we took the goals well and we could have possibly added another. The second half was about maintaining our professionalism and focusing on going about the game in the right way.”