West Bromwich Albion have joined the growing group of Premier League clubs monitoring Leeds United defender Sam Byram.
The 19-year-old was watched by West Brom manager Steve Clarke and assistant Keith Downing during Saturday’s 2-2 draw between Leeds and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
Byram is emerging as a possible summer target for Albion with the West Midlands club in the market for a new right-back and interested in taking United’s talented academy product to The Hawthorns.
Interest in Byram has been increasing throughout his first season as a senior professional at Elland Road and Leeds negotiated an extension to his contract last month amid suggestions that Everton were intent on signing the teenager.
Byram is protected by a contract that runs until June 2016 but he is likely to attract further attention when the summer arrives, despite a slight dip in his form recently.
The highly-rated right-back lacked his usual confidence during an eventful Championship clash at Molineux but he appeared to have forced a vital win when he drew Bakary Sako into conceding a penalty which Ross McCormack converted 12 minutes from time, giving United a 2-1 lead.
Wolves manager Dean Saunders implied that Byram had fooled referee Roger East and one of his assistants into penalising Sako, saying: “I couldn’t believe the linesman gave it. It’s outrageous.
“He (Byram) is running alongside Sako, realises the ball’s getting away from him so threw his body across Sako.”
But Warnock defended his young full-back’s actions, insisting: “I think it depends which camp you’re in.”
McCormack’s careful finish from the spot put Leeds on course for a priceless victory and only their fourth away win of the Championship season but they were stung in the second minute of injury-time when Danny Batth equalised with a close-range header.
Warnock made four changes to his team, handing debuts to striker Steve Morison and left-back Stephen Warnock and bringing Paul Green and David Norris back into his line-up, and he spoke highly of United’s performance despite admitting that their late concession had delivered another heavy blow to their chances of promotion.
“Away from home, the new lads did well,” Warnock said. “We made a few changes and Morison gave us something we’ve not had before.
“Stephen Warnock played well as did the other two lads, Norris and Green. I was pleased with everything apart from the goals.
“The frustration is that we’ve played Cardiff City and Wolves in our last two games and got one point out of those games. But I’m ever so pleased with how we’ve played. I’m pleased with how we’ve played since the Barnsley debacle last month.
“I’ve got the team I want together now and I can’t fault anyone. This is the team I’d like going into the trenches with me if we were going to war. You know what I’m like.
“I was disappointed with the goals but you ask everyone to give their all and they did. That’s what I love about the Championship, rather than the Premier League. You’ve got honest, genuine people who want to play.
“They might not be great at times but they’re honest and genuine and that’s what football’s all about. The Premier League lacks that sometimes.”
Forward El-Hadji Diouf was rested on Saturday along with midfielder Rodolph Austin whose late return from international duty on Friday afternoon saw him omitted from Warnock’s squad completely.
Both players are expected to return to contention for the league match at Middlesbrough.