West Brom midfielder Isaiah Brown will become the youngest
player to appear in the Premier League if he makes his debut
against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Steve Clarke has confirmed Brown will be part of his squad for
the trip to West London and he could be named on the bench at the
tender age of 16 years and 54 days.
If the England U17 international does feature at some point, he
will surpass Fulham’s Matthew Briggs’ previous record, set in 2007,
by 11 days.
Albion have been struggling with injuries and had to seek
permission to take Brown out of school to train with the squad this
The teenager has been part of Albion’s academy set-up for the
past three years, with Arsenal understood to be tracking his
progress after he impressed for their U18 and U21 sides.
He is currently studying his GCSE exams but West Brom’s recently
acquired status as a Category One academy means they can take over
young players’ academic studies.
Brown would also be Albion’s second youngest debutant if he
plays, behind only Frank Hodgetts, who was 16 years and 26 days
when he appeared against Notts Country in 1940 in a war-time
The Wales forward has been linked with Real, and their big
rivals Barca, after a stunning season that has seen him fire in 23
goals for club and country.
Madrid are thought to have made the 23-year-old their number one
transfer target, and Bale would no doubt be tempted by a move to
the nine-times European champions should they come calling this
Villas-Boas remains confident of hanging on to his man, however,
and the Tottenham boss warned Real president Fiorentino Perez he
would find it extremely hard to deal with his opposite number
He also believes Bale can realise his aims with Spurs.
“I think for a player to develop to his full potential, it can
be done perfectly in this league,” Villas-Boas said. “I think
Gareth has that in mind, not only regarding Spurs but regarding
this league too.
“We have the best league in the world in my opinion. The best
clubs are continuing to attract the best players over.
“We don’t want Gareth to go by any circumstances. I have told
you in the past that our chairman is very, very difficult to deal
“We will try to hold on to our assets. We believe that we have
to hold on to the best players in order to achieve our
Thompson joined Tranmere Rovers from Dale last summer and has
scored twice in 22 appearances for the League One
Tranmere have the option to recall the 23-year-old after the
first 28 days of his spell at Spotland.
“Joe needs games and due to injuries and the form of other
players he’s not played as much as he would have wanted here,” said
manager Ronnie Moore on Rovers’ official website.
“This gives him the opportunity to play first team football at a
club he knows very well.”
The Scottish First Division club’s players have been
experiencing delays in payments for several months and only
received the final part of their January wages earlier this
And PFA Scotland said there was “little prospect of payment in
full in the immediate future” for this month’s wages.
Chief executive Fraser Wishart said in a statement: “Our members
have shown a great deal of patience and understanding in recent
months. Players at that level are not highly paid therefore any
delay in payment of wages can lead to hardship, inconvenience and
“As professional footballers they understand the importance that
a football club has in the eyes of the fans and the community and
they thank those who have sent messages of support.
“There comes a time however when as a squad they have to make a
stand and invoke their statutory rights.
“In addition to the late payment of salaries there are
outstanding win bonuses and appearance monies due for quite some
“The club has advised our members that they are unable to
provide an undertaking that the outstanding sums will be paid and
so appear not to be able guarantee a remedy to the contractual
“PFA Scotland has therefore been instructed to intimate a formal
complaint to the SFL for illegal deduction of our members’ salary
and for breach of contract by the club.”
Wishart called for a speedy response from the SFL to help
players, who were reported to be considering strike action ahead of
Saturday’s scheduled clash with Partick Thistle.
“I am sure the SFL board will recognise the importance of this
matter both to our members but also to helping the club through
this difficult time by ensuring that it can complete its fixtures
for the season,” he said.
“Given the unique circumstances of this matter, and the hardship
being caused to our members, we have requested that the SFL board
set up an adjudication panel to hear our members’ complaints as a
matter of considerable urgency.”
He added: “Dunfermline is a proud club with a great history
within Scottish football and our members will continue to assist
with its survival.
“What cannot go on however is that our members, who are not
highly paid, are asked to turn up for training when they cannot
justify the travel costs and then put themselves at risk of injury
on a weekly basis without any sign of being paid.”
Pars manager Jim Jefferies on Thursday expressed fears that
there was no light at the end of the tunnel after being told of the
Jefferies said: “The players have taken advice and gone through
the proper channels but it is getting to the stage now where you
are just hoping that they are sensible but what can they do except
take drastic action? I just hope that it doesn’t come to that.”
The Scottish Football League said they would ask Dunfermline for
their response before the board consider any potential action.