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West Brom's Chris Wood happy to be 'serving apprenticeship' with Birmingham

West Bromwich Albion young gun Chris Wood clearly understands the idea of a loan move and feels it is a great way for inexperienced players to develop their game in a first team environment.

The 19-year old New Zealand international is what he describes as 'serving an apprenticeship' with English Championship outfit Birmingham City and is certainly making a name for himself in the Midlands as he improves his game.

Wood has scored eight goals in 15 appearances (10 starts) in England's second tier whilst adding a further two in the Europa League as the Blues look to gain promotion back to the Premier League as well as progress to the next phase of the European competition and he is enjoying his time at St Andrews immensely.

"My time at Birmingham (so far) has been great, my team mates, the manager and the fans made me feel very welcome, I hope that they feel that I have been a worthwhile addition to the team," he told tribalfootball.com with as much clinical precision as we have seen from his finishing this term.

"The aim of going out on loan is to improve your game with regular matches but you must give value to your loan club.

"For a young player it is like serving an apprenticeship, you must learn every day.

"This is always done with the view to play at the best level your ability allows you to."

Wood is a product of the West Brom youth academy and has received high praise from those in the know at the club which gives the Auckland-born striker extra fuel to deliver whenever he steps out onto the pitch, whether it be in a Baggies shirt or with a loan club. He also says the vast knowledge of some of his coaches - including Roy Hodgson, Chris Hughton and Michael Appleton - have given him the confidence to mix it with the best in the business.

"It's great for me to be guided by such an experienced manager. Roy helped me during pre-season working on aspects of my game that needed improving," he added.

"Appy (Michael Appleton, now manager at Portsmouth) as my coach for two years in the academy and then as first team coach (at West Brom) has been immense. He always 'tells it like it is' even if you don't want to hear it!!

"As for the comments by Appy, it is always nice to hear that your parent club thinks highly of you, I hope it is always that way.

"(Hughton) is a good manager especially for us young players. He has 'been there, done it' in football and knows how tough the Championship can be. His knowledge, cool head and guidance has been good for my game."

Juggling domestic obligations with European duties is new for Wood but he admits it is vital for the development of his game to be playing regular minutes on a consistent basis against top quality opposition.

"It's about consistent playing time and the regularity of the games helps immensely," he added with mature words that belie his age.

"Some people complain about the number of games but no amount of training can improve your game like playing can.

"(Europa League) is something that excites me. It's a new challenge and experience, something to step up to and extend myself."

With 17 internationals already under his belt and with his parent club regarding him so highly, all things point towards a bright future for Wood. He hopes to repay the faith shown in him by West Brom, who have sent him out to Barnsley and Brighton & Hove Albion in recent years, in a bid to sharpen him up for the rigours of the Premier League.

"They (Baggies coaching staff) keep an eye on me, they always have. They assess the progress I am making each week. They have managed my loans very well," he added.

"I have always felt confident in my ability, I think as a striker you have to.

"For me I hope that I will be given the chance at WBA."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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