At the age of 23 and with little senior experience to his name, last season was a vital one in Zain Westbrooke’s career in proving he had what it takes to establish himself in the professional game. A match-winning goal on the opening day of the campaign indicated that Westbrooke would be able to make that step up, the central midfielder would go on to score and assist a number of important goals over the first half of the campaign as he made himself a regular in the starting line-up. However, after losing his place in the side over the second half of the campaign, Westbrooke enters this season needing to make yet another step up in his nascent career.
A tidy, technically proficient central midfielder, Westbrooke’s ability to strike the ball cleanly accurately is his biggest asset. As someone who isn’t exactly an imposing presence in the centre the park, stepping up with goals and assists from dead-ball situations or open play meant that Westbrooke’s ability to influence a game could never be discounted. When pushed into a more advanced role as a result of the mid-season change in formation, Westbrooke relished the freedom to float around the pitch and neatly link the play but perhaps lacked the pace and directness that would have made him a genuine threat from that area of the pitch.
With the amount of central and attacking midfielders in the squad heading into this season, the competition for starting places in the positions that Zain Westbrooke can play is going to be intense, while also accounting for the step up in quality that the Championship imposes. Even more so than last season, Westbrooke is really going to have to demonstrate he can impact games when called upon. While the step up may be coming a year or so too soon for Westbrooke, it’s a big opportunity at this stage of his career to show what he can do at a high level of football.