West Brom manager Slaven Bilic


Noel Whelan has tipped Slaven Bilic to transform Gareth Barry from a central midfielder to someone who operates in a deeper role upon his return to West Brom.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds striker and Championship expert says that Barry will not be able to offer the same energy and dynamism in the middle of the park and that a tactical switch is needed to get the best out of him.

The Baggies have already confirmed their plans to hand the veteran a new deal at the Hawthorns once he gets up to fitness, having seen his contract expire this summer.

However, Whelan insists the midlands side are not going to get much running out of the 38-year-old as and when he does play, suggesting a change of position could be on the cards under Bilic.

Whelan told Football Insider: “He’s going to bring experience and professionalism to the dressing room and to training, but he’s not going to bring you energy to the midfield now.

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“We saw that last season, he didn’t have the legs and that’s what worried me about West Brom, they had a lot of big names but ageing players.

“He might have to adapt to a different type of role – he can read the game, he’s got a great range of passing. There’s no doubt he’s an exceptional player, he’s done so much for the game.

“Slaven Bilic might have to think he can’t be that midfield player, he might have to play deeper.”

Barry is a veteran of the game in both age and number of games played, with over 800 matches under his belt at senior level.

He holds the record for most Premier League appearances, turning out 653 times in the top flight for the likes of Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa over the years.

In other West Brom news, Darren Bent has told Football Insider that the club could make the “perfect signing” outside the transfer window.