Thompson back with Dale

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

Daniel Levy.

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.”