By Danny Wright

20th Mar, 2022 | 7:12pm

Taylor Gardner-Hickman breakthrough hints there's light at end of tunnel for West Brom

West Brom fans haven’t been here for a very long time but it seems as though their club will be nowhere near a top-six finish in the Championship this season.

While we all love a last-gasp equaliser, Adam Reach’s stoppage-time goal against Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Saturday [19 March] was bittersweet with two more points dropped by the Baggies and their hopes of a play-off spot left all but dead.

Promotion, it seems, is now a pipe dream. But while it may be tough for some Albion supporters to admit it, there have been some positives about their season back in the Championship.

Taylor Gardner-Hickman has been an absolute revelation at The Hawthorns this term.

The versatile 20-year-old burst onto the scene this term while Valerien Ismael was in charge, putting in man-of-the-match performances in his league debut against Hull City while playing at right-back and in a 2-1 win at Coventry as a defensive midfielder.

It seemed that Gardner-Hickman could do no wrong but clearly, in the eyes of Ismael, that wasn’t the case as the youngster continually found himself getting dropped, left as an unused substitute and failing to string together three consecutive appearances.

But while Steve Bruce did take his time to utilise Albion’s talented young star – he handed him just one 10-minute-long substitute’s appearance in his first five games in charge – Gardner-Hickman is now one of the first names on the manager’s team sheet.

Gardner-Hickman has now earned four starts in a row, playing 90 minutes in each of the last three. And it’s no coincidence that in those games where the 20-year-old has manned the midfield, West Brom have gone unbeaten.

Gardner-Hickman’s form in the Championship has been rewarded with a call-up to the latest England Under-20s squad.

The Young Lions will play European Elite League fixtures against Poland and Germany over the course of the next 10 days, unmissable games if you have access to watch them as a West Brom fan.

It’s been a season of dreadful football, painful performances, woeful off-field decisions and utter disappointment.

But at least in Gardner-Hickman, West Brom fans have some hope that they have an extremely talented young player in their midst.

Gardner-Hickman cannot be sat on the bench every week again. He’s the kind of player you build a team around.

In other Football Wonderkids news, Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi can make his mark for England after his call-up to the national team this week.