Hopcroft given academy assurances

West Bromwich Albion academy recruitment manager Steve Hopcroft says he has been given assurances that the new owners will continue to focus and invest in youth.

Recent graduates of the Baggies' academy include Saido Berahino, Jonathan Leko, Sam Field and Kane Wilson and Hopcroft recently turned down an offer to work with the Manchester United in order to continue his work at the Hawthorns.

Guochuan Lai’s takeover is imminent and incoming chairman John Williams has put Hopcroft's mind at ease by indicating there will likely be an increase in the youth development budget.

“The new chairman is pro-academy from his Blackburn days,” Hopcroft, who has been at the club since 2004, said.

“He said that, if anything, it will be more academy-focused now.

“I spoke to the new chairman a couple of days ago and his words to me were ‘we’re going to try and do things in a different way to other clubs.

“Be innovative, be different, but still academy-focused. So I have been given assurances that everything is going to be okay.

“I certainly don’t go to sleep at night worrying about the academy closing down.”

Hopcroft has been at the forefront of innovative schemes designed to help West Brom keep pace with their super-rich rivals in the Premier League.

“With the huge amount of money in the game, if we just try and do what everyone else is doing, a lot of the time we’re going to come down the pecking order,” he added.

“We’ve got to do things differently and that’s what we’ve done at academy level."