By Noel Whelan

24th Feb, 2020 | 6:06pm

Exclusive: Whelan claims West Brom dealt heavy blow after win v Bristol City

Noel Whelan claims West Brom will sorely miss the qualities of Romaine Sawyers as the midfielder prepares to serve the first of a three-game ban.

The former Leeds United forward, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, compared the 28-year-old to Elland Road favourite Kalvin Phillips in the role he plays for Slaven Bilic’s side.

Sawyers received a straight red in the Baggies 3-0 win away at Bristol City on Saturday after grabbing his former Walsall teammate Jamie Paterson by the throat.

It was the former Brentford player’s first red card of the season and he will now miss home games against Preston, Wigan and Newcastle in the FA Cup fifth round.

When asked how significant a loss the Saint Kitts and Nevis international would be for the Championship table-toppers, Whelan told Football Insider: “It is like losing Kalvin Phillips. He is their Kalvin Phillips.

“I have been an admirer of his while he was at Brentford. They got him for an absolute bargain to be quite honest with you. I would have loved us to have gone and signed him. He could have played ahead of Kalvin Phillips. It would have been a real catch.

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“But he is a West Brom player and Bilic has seen quality in him. They will miss the qualities he possesses when he is out of the side because he is the one that sits back and gives the comfort to allow other players to get forward – the wing-backs and forwards.”

Sawyers has made 32 appearances in the Championship for the Baggies since joining from Brentford last summer.

Veteran midfielder Gareth Barry could play in his absence after the 39-year-old returned to training last week.

In other West Brom news, it can be REVEALED that a new contract could be tabled for star man this month.