Albion boss Steve Clarke today defended striker Shane Long and insisted the Ireland international will benefit from Saturday’s return to the team.
Long made his first Premier League start since his proposed deadline-day move to Hull collapsed when he was picked for Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
But the 26-year-old struggled to make an impression.
Clarke said: “It will do him the world of good. He’s made a good contribution when he’s come off the bench this season. It hasn’t been easy for Shane. He’s had a few niggling injuries and he’s also been away with the Ireland team, which disrupts the rhythm.
“It’s been difficult for him, but I was pleased with Shane’s effort. He gave me exactly what I thought he would.”
Long saw Boaz Myhill produce another solid display as he deputised for injured No.1 Ben Foster and the Hawthorns head coach was full of praise for the Wales international.
“Boaz made a couple of really good saves,” said Clarke.
“Even last season, Ben knew he had to work hard and be on top of his game because Boaz is an accomplished international goalkeeper.
“He’s shown that since we lost Ben in the second game of the season and defensively we’ve been strong and solid.
“To do that, you need to have a good goalkeeper. With the exception of the game at Liverpool, when some of Liverpool’s finishing was sublime, I think Boaz can be really pleased with his contribution this year.
“I’m not going to go down the line of speaking about Ben coming back to put pressure on Boaz.
“At the moment, Boaz is my goalkeeper and he’s doing a fantastic job. Everybody’s really happy with him.”
Clarke was today awaiting news on the fitness of Billy Jones after the full-back limped off with a hamstring injury 30 minutes into Saturday’s win.
The problem saw Clarke introduce eventual goalscorer Saido Berahino as part of an attacking reshuffle, with Morgan Amalfitano switching to right-back.
“I wouldn’t have looked to put a defensive player on that early,” said Clarke.
“Although we’d had a lot of the ball, I didn’t feel we’d created enough.”