Cheltenham Town have signed West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Josh Griffiths on loan.
It will be the 18-year-old’s first taste of senior first team football, having impressed in the Baggies’ youth set-up.
He will start the season as Robins number one, with the experienced Scott Flinders not due back from a broken leg until January at the earliest.
Cheltenham are also close to bringing in an understudy to Griffiths, who stands 6ft 6in.
He appeared at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium for his parent club in a 4-3 behind-closed-doors friendly win on January 23.
Griffiths has been with West Brom since the age of 10, having been spotted at Allan Hawkins’ goalkeeping academy in Ledbury. He has previously played for Pegasus Juniors in his home city of Hereford.
His form for West Brom’s youth team earned a call-up for England Under-18 in March last year and he started in a 3-2 UAE Sports Chain Cup win over Mexico in Dubai.
Griffiths was the subject of interest from Premier League clubs during West Brom’s time in the Championship, but they won promotion back to the top flight as runners-up to champions Leeds United in 2019/20.
He signed a four-year contract with the Baggies in September last year, shortly after returning from a spell training with England Under-20s.
At the time, West Brom’s senior goalkeeping coach Gary Walsh told the club’s official website: “Apart from his potential, he’s a terrific lad who is really grounded and that’s a big credit to him, the club and everyone who has worked with him.
“He’s working alongside the three senior keepers now and he is like a sponge listening to all their advice.
“They want to help him because he is such a genuine young man.
“The biggest compliment I can pay him is that I keep forgetting he’s 18.
“His potential is there for us all to see – but now he has got to keep working and I am sure he will do.”
Cheltenham have another West Brom youngster on their books, with attacking midfielder Finn Azaz joining on a season-long loan and he has already impressed in training.
Michael Duff has also brought in defender Lewis Freestone from Brighton, midfielder Liam Sercombe from Bristol Rovers and striker Andy Williams from Northampton Town.
A loan midfielder is also thought to be close to joining Cheltenham, whose first behind-closed-doors friendly is at Evesham United on Saturday, with a visit to Stratford Town three days later.
They then play Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Friday, August 21, with a final friendly against Bristol Rovers also expected ahead of the first competitive game on September 5.