Craig Dawson is in fantastic form at both ends of the pitch for The Trotters since arriving on loan at the end of January. Can the England under-21 international force his way into the West Brom first-team picture next season?
West Bromwich Albion have had a great season so far and it has largely been down to a solid defensive shape. Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley have formed a brilliant centre-back partnership with the likes of Liam Ridgewell, Billy Jones and when called upon Steven Reid have been exemplary in the full-back positions.
The competition for places in the back-line has meant some of the players on the cusp of first team action have had to look elsewhere for first-team football. One such player was England under-21 international Craig Dawson.
The 22-year-old has not featured in the Premier League this season making three appearances for The Baggies in the domestic cup competitions. Despite this his pedigree at youth international level and his summer call-up to the GB Olympic Football Team made him a wanted commodity among the Championship sides in January.
Winning out among competition from Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest were Bolton Wanderers; who saw the former Rochdale player as a perfect tool to plug up their leaky defence and potentially forge a last-ditch run at the play-offs.
That is exactly what has happened.
Since arriving at the Reebok Stadium he has remained unbeaten in a Trotters kit; playing six winning three drawing the other half.
But the aspect of his game that is well known at international level with five goals in 11 under-21 caps is an ability to score from set-pieces.
That ability is now being fully utilised at Bolton; where he has scored four goals in his six appearances so far.
He has scored in three consecutive games including a double against Hull City and what proved to be the winning goal in the games with Peterborough United and Barnsley.
Such a decent run of form has taken The Trotters up to tenth in the league table and just seven points behind Brighton and Hove Albion in the final play-off position; something that seemed unthinkable at the end of 2012.
West Brom are obviously keen to keep hold of him and Dougie Freedman has already rubbished talk of retaining Dawson beyond the end of the season. With McAuley now 33-years-old and Olsson now readily approaching his 30th birthday this month young centre back talent is essential at The Hawthorns.
Steve Clarke will know he potentially has a future England international on his hands in the form of Craig Dawson.
What have you made of Dawson’s Championship form?
image: © Matthew Wilkinson