West Brom defender Gareth McAuley today backed veteran full-back Steven Reid to be ready to come in from the cold in Saturday’s Premier League game at Chelsea.
Reid is on stand-by for a rare first-team appearance with in-form defender Billy Jones struggling with a hamstring problem ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.
And McAuley believes the 32-year-old will be ready to play despite not figuring in the league so far this season and failing to even make the substitutes’ bench of late.
McAuley said: “He’s been in and around the squad so he’ll be fine. He’s had an injury and got himself back fit and is now training every day.
“We have our fingers crossed for Billy that it’s not too bad but Reidy is ready to step into that berth if he’s needed. Reidy’s a great professional and great to have around.
“When he plays he’s fantastic for us. He hasn’t played much but it’s one of those things in football – we all talk about the importance of the squad.”
McAuley, who scored in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Crystal Palace and contributed to a clean sheet, also joined the praise for goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, who has impressed since No.1 Ben Foster suffered a stress fracture to his foot.
“Boaz is a great keeper and great to have around the place,” said McAuley.
“He’s full of life and has loads of experience, which helps. He’s been fantastic in the games and really settled in. He’s got a few clean sheets under his belt.
“If we keep winning games it will be difficult for anyone to get back into the team, never mind Ben when he comes back. Boaz has been fantastic for us.”
McAuley’s late header against Palace added to another goal for Saido Berahino, with the youngster now boasting six in all competitions for the Baggies this season as well as four for England Under-21s.
McAuley said: “He’s worked really hard. It’s up to us to keep him working hard and we have to keep him progressing.”