Baggies back Lukaku for PFA award
Billy Jones has added his voice to the long list of those hoping West Bromwich Albion can hang on to his weekend goal-maker Romelu Lukaku and is hopeful the striker will win the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Hawthorns head coach Steve Clarke has long been on the record as saying he would love to see through a fresh loan deal next season for the on-loan Chelsea man, who has been a sensation in the Black Country in 2012-13.
The Belgium international leads the club's goal charts with 13 – all in the Premier League – and the appeal of having him back for a second stint is obvious.
"He has got everything... strength, speed, he can out-trick his opponent and he can finish," Jones said.
"He is always a threat and still so young. He is going to go on and get better and better. He is willing to work hard and learn. Every day, he is working hard and practising.
"We're just hoping a deal can be done with him for next season. I have not spoken to him about it but he's great to have in the dressing room. And, on the pitch, you can see what he has done."
The first goal of Jones's Albion career rescued a point in Saturday's 1-1 draw at home against Newcastle. And the final touch in the build-up came from Lukaku, who is one of the nominees in the voting for the PFA prize, due to be announced on Sunday. Jones believes that being in the running for the award will boost both his confidence and his reputation even more.
"Rom has got to be happy at getting this pat on the back from his fellow professionals," he added.
"All the lads here want him to win it, so fingers crossed. But there is some very talented opposition and he's not the bookies' favourite."
As things stand, the 19-year-old is due to play his last Albion game in clash with champions Manchester United at The Hawthorns on May 19.
Jones also hopes Albion can hang on to the under-contract stars who are likely to attract summer interest because of the side's impact on the top flight this term.
Clarke has talked of the possibility of rival clubs eyeing certain players but the full-back added: "We hope they will be here next season.
"These are key, proven Premier League players who we want to keep. I'm sure the chairman and his staff are working hard to keep them. The general gist is that everything is happy and we're improving year in, year out."