Albion defender Shane Duffy believes Albion loanee Jayson Molumby would have been closer to the first team if it was not for injuries.

The midfielder was in and around the Albion first team in the 2017/18 season. He made two appearances in the Carabao Cup and was on the bench for the Premier League games against West Ham, Everton and Arsenal.

A 15-month absence with a serious knee injury then hampered his progress.

Since then Molumby has battled his way back to fitness and is now out on a season-long loan at Championship side Millwall.

Fellow Irishmen Duffy reckons without the injuries Molumby would now be knocking on the door.

Duffy, who has just joined up with the Republic of Ireland squad, said:“I think it’s a great move (Millwall) for Jayson firstly.

“He’s had a tough time with injuries and I think he would have been a lot closer to the first team if he didn’t suffer those setbacks.

“It’s great for him that he can be out there and playing now at a good club in Millwall and at a good level in the Championship.”

Molumby has been progressing well with the Lions and played the full 90 minutes in their last two games, a 1-1 draw away to Luton and Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leeds at The Den.

How much game-time he gets at the Lions now could depend on who takes over the helm following manager Neil Harris’ departure.

Harris sang Molumby’s praises in August when they beat West Bromwich Albion in the Carabao Cup first round, calling him “outstanding”.

He added: “I think he showed the fans his qualities and what a good player he’s going to be in the future and for Millwall.”

His liking for a tackle and all-action style has won over the Millwall fanbase. He will need all those traits tonight at a sold-out Tallaght Stadium when Republic of Ireland Under-21s face Italy in their European Championships qualifier.

Ireland, who also play Iceland on Tuesday, sit at the top of Group 1 with maximum points after victories over Luxembourg, Armenia and, in impressive style last month, Sweden.

Under-21s boss Stephen Kenny has warned the hard work is only just beginning for Molumby and the rest of his squad.

He said: “Italy themselves are a formidable team. They’ve got a lot of top-class players - (Everton striker) Moise Kean, Patrick Cutrone of Wolves played against Manchester City at the weekend, (Sassuolo midfielder) Manuel Locatelli, their captain...

“They’ve got a serious team. We respect their strengths.”