Gordon Greer believes he would have benefitted as a young player from having someone keeping close tabs on his progress when out on loan.
The former Albion skipper will be doing exactly that with Albion’s young players, having recently taken over from David Weir as the club’s pathway development manager.
He explained, “It would have been invaluable to have someone looking out for me when I went out on loan. When I went to Stockport on loan from Blackburn, what I am doing now wasn’t a role, so I didn’t speak to anyone from Blackburn while I was out on loan until I returned.
“So I was on my own, I wasn’t getting feedback and I didn’t know how Blackburn perceived the loan had gone until I returned to the club. Whereas now we speak to the players and the clubs the players are at fairly regularly, we try and watch as many games as possible and try to give them honest feedback.
“The lads are always fully aware of how we think they’re getting on. I’ve got an opinion and I try my best to give that to the lads, whether it’s what they want to hear or not. I want to help them along in their journey.
“I hope they can look back later in life and say ‘you really helped me with that’, then it would definitely have been worthwhile.”
The 41-year-old is pleased to see players and clubs alike being rewarded for taking young players on loan.
The likes of Carl Rushworth [to Walsall] and Jan Paul van Hecke [to Blackburn] enjoyed their first seasons out on loan in the EFL, with both receiving their loan club’s Player of the Season awards.
Gordon sees a similar situation unfolding as to what he experienced after his loan with Stockport.
“It was really difficult to find a loan because I was a young centre-back, I was technical but I wasn’t the most aggressive or the best in the air, I was a bit wet behind the ears.
“After that loan I had ten offers to go and play elsewhere, so the loan was a massive door-opener for me, I genuinely couldn’t believe the offers I was getting.
“We’re now seeing a similar situation with the likes of Carl Rushworth, it’s not easy for a young goalkeeper to get a loan, a lot of managers want an experienced player between the sticks. So Walsall took a gamble on him and now this year there has been a lot of interest.
“I definitely think there’s real value to opening the players up to getting them out on loan and playing. Being involved in a first team environment can be of real value for all parties going forward.”