James Furlong couldn’t be happier to see Albion’s Irish contingent thriving.
The Republic of Ireland youth international is close friends with Evan Ferguson, Andrew Moran and Leigh Kavanagh in the under-21 squad and they spend time together off the field.
“It’s nice having a few of us here, it’s good to have that connection with home,” James said. “We’re all close, we have each other’s backs through the highs and lows. We spend time together away from the pitch.
“We go out for food or chill out, watching football or playing cards. It helps us switch off from football."
The quartet also relax together on the golf course.
“Evan is the worst at golf, he’s only just started playing in fairness. Andy is the best as he played back at home with his dad when he was younger, he’s very good. Evan struggles to get around the course, he needs a buggy every time we play!”
The 20-year-old made his competitive debut for Albion in last week’s 3-0 win at Forest Green Rovers in the Carabao Cup, when Ferguson scored his first senior goal.
“I’ve been working towards that moment since I arrived. With the manager here at the club young players get their chance and you’ve got to take it. It drives me on to get more opportunities and try and impress if I do.
“We were buzzing that Evan got his first goal. Even for me and Andy to play a role in helping him score that goal was really nice. You dream of playing in the first team and to do it with close friends was a special feeling.
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“After the game I had texts from friends and family, as well as people at the club, which I wasn’t expecting as well as friends who I haven’t spoken to in ages, which was cool. I am just trying to play well every week to get another chance, it’s about maintaining your standards. The staff – Andrew Crofts and Shannon Ruth – make sure you do that. We’ve got great facilities to help us to improve.”
The under-21s are back in action this Saturday at Leicester City as Crofts’ team go in search of their first Premier League 2 win of the new campaign.
“We’ve performed well but just been unlucky with a few results. We’ve been through a tough period, but we’ve come out the other side,” added Furlong. “We played well against Arsenal last week and got a good point. We want to start getting wins now.”