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Furlong: My first taste of the Premier League was special

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Irish defender reflects on last weekend as under-21s get ready to play Blackburn today.

By Matt Bishop • 06 November 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
James Furlong was on the bench for Albion for the 4-1 victory over Chelsea last weekend.

After being involved in a Premier League matchday squad for the first time, James Furlong wants to keep impressing Roberto De Zerbi as our under-21s prepare to face Blackburn Rovers today, kick off 1pm.

Furlong is one of three players heading north to face Rovers in Premier League 2 who were involved in last weekend’s 4-1 win over Chelsea, with Andrew Moran also named among the substitutes and Antef Tsoungui warming up with the team before kick-off.

Ed Turns, who was a regular in PL2 earlier this season before being named in four of De Zerbi’s last five matchday squads, joined Moran and Furlong on the bench against Chelsea too, and Furlong loved the experience alongside his young teammates.


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PL2 Highlights: Albion 2 Chelsea 2

“I’ve been named in Carabao Cup squads and came on against Forest Green this season, but getting a taste of the Premier League was extra special.” said the 20-year-old left back.

“The whole experience was fantastic for me, and when you see what it’s like in person, you just want more of it. The atmosphere was buzzing, the boys played brilliantly and we got a big win which was totally deserved.

“To do it all alongside Andy, Ed and Antef made it even better. When we play for the 21s or train with the first team, we try to take our chance and impress the manager. Having the four of us there on Saturday showed we are doing well and working hard.”

Our trip to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday could present Furlong and his under-21 teammates with another first-team opportunity, but the Irish defender isn’t getting carried away and knows what he’s got to do to earn more experiences like last weekend’s.

“I am just focused on progressing as a player and improving every day in training. Whenever I get a chance to play at the moment, whether it’s with the first team or the 21s, I just try to help the team and perform as well as I can.

“Roberto trusts young players. I think he’s already shown that he’s ready to give us a chance, either in training or matches. We just need to keep our heads down and work as hard as possible.

By Paul Hazlewood
Having been on the bench for the first team on the Saturday, Furlong played in Sunday's Premier League 2 draw with Chelsea.

“I’d love to be involved against Arsenal but for now I am just taking every day as it comes.”

Before any more thoughts of the Gunners start to creep in, Furlong will need to be at his best against Blackburn today as Shannon Ruth’s team look to continue their good form.

Albion are now five unbeaten in all competitions, and haven’t tasted defeat in PL2 since mid-September, but Rovers will be determined to start a run of their own after back-to-back league defeats.

Furlong said, “Blackburn are a really good side, we had a tough game up there last year and know it will be difficult again.”

“But we are also playing really well at the moment and are confident, so can hopefully get another three points. We’ve come together as a team in recent weeks, which is something we’ve worked really hard on under Shannon and Gary Dicker.

“I love working under them and all the staff, and as a squad we are together. We’re playing a way that suits me and all of the boys.

“It’s enjoyable to be a part of right now, we’re scoring lots of goals and playing exciting football. I love bombing forward as much as defending so it suits my game, and hopefully we can keep our good run going."