Boro’ kept busy off the pitch in January 2022; Zain Westbrooke joining on loan and becoming our sixth new addition to the squad. The midfielder came to us from fellow League Two outfit Bristol Rovers in a deal that’d stretch until the end of the 2021-2 campaign. And it wasn’t boss Paul Tisdale’s first attempt to bolster our ranks in middle of the park at the start of 2022 either. Westbrooke’s addition, if nothing else, was the sign of a Boro’ squad in transition. And the aim was to shoot back up the table.
The midfielder had only made three League Two appearances for the Gas before coming to us. There were six other outings in cup competitions too, one of which saw him find the net. But it seemed odd that Rovers didn’t want to make use of his talents. After all, Football League World describes him as “talented” and who are we to argue. More importantly, Tisdale knew all about him from their time together at the Memorial Stadium in late 2020 and early 2021. And the fact he could join us is a sign that Tisdale’s predecessor wasn’t keen.
There was maybe a good reason for that. Westbrooke failed to make much impact as Tisdale’s reign floundered. It was probably not helped by putting the player in the middle of a three-man midfield. As new boss Steve Evans came in, the opportunities for Westbrooke became few and far between; the midfielder not seen much at all in the final weeks of the 2021-2 campaign. Who knows what’ll come next for the player, but we doubt there’ll be a resurgence at Bristol Rovers; a side promoted to League One and doing well enough without his services.
Zain Westbrooke: Before Boro’
Born in Chertsey, Westbrooke’s career started at Chelsea as a yoof. But 2011 saw him move on; switching one side of west London for another as Brentford picked him up. In his time with the Bees, he turned pro – making his senior debut in 2017. As you might expect, however, he didn’t get much of a look in as far as first team action goes. And it’s no surprise that loans away from what was then Griffin Park would give him a real taste of the action.
First it was with Solihull Moors, next it was with Leyton Orient. Neither spell convinced the Bees to keep hold of him though. But he had been noticed. And it was Coventry City who made their move in summer 2018; signing Westbrooke on a freebie. After a quiet start to life at the Ricoh in the 2018-9 campaign, the 2019-20 season saw him step up to the plate. He chipped in with four goals in 33 outings as the Sky Blues won the League One title in the aborted Covid campaign.
He didn’t get to make a contribution in the second tier, sadly. In summer 2020, Westbrooke was on the move again; stepping back down the ladder to hook up with Bristol Rovers.