Alan Pardew will have no problems picking 'angry' Jay Rodriguez against Chelsea
Alan Pardew will have no problems picking Jay Rodriguez against Chelsea even though his striker is 'angry' about his FA charge.
Rodriguez was charged last night for alleged racial abuse of Gaetan Bong, although the 28-year-old has vowed to fight the charge and prove his innocence.
Pardew is aware the serious accusation could have long-term damage on Rodriguez's reputation, not just in the immediate future, but for the rest of his life.
Albion's head coach admitted he was 'nervous' to talk about the situation and has called the Professional Footballers Association and Kick It Out for guidance.
But he's confident his striker has the right mindset to deal with the controversies.
"It's a situation which is not ideal for Jay," said Pardew. "It's an accusation he denies and we're going to support him.
"It's a process which needs to be seen through and our comments can affect it so the less we say the better.
"Jay is upset about it, he has a good mental capacity to deal with things and hopefully he can concentrate on his football and not worry too much - although it is a worry.
"At the moment he's angry but he's ok.
"We're in that world where everyone has to be so careful and talking about it I'm nervous.
"I spoke to the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) this morning and tried to speak to Kick it Out, but I've not heard back.
"We need to make sure for the two guys we understand the seriousness of the situation.
"It's not just about us (possibly) losing Jay for five games it's a bit more serious than that, his future after the game – whether he wants to be a coach or going into business.
"It's a serious accusation so he wants to defend it.
"He's adamant to me (that he's innocent) and has been, he hasn't changed his tune or his statement or anything.
"He has been consistent from the moment he has stepped off the pitch. I've got no problem picking him."
Rodriguez has five goals in his last eight appearances for the Baggies, but he was dropped to the bench last weekend in favour of new boy Daniel Sturridge.
Pardew, however, admitted that it was a mistake in hindsight, and hinted that Rodriguez would feature against Chelsea.
"It's a tough call at the top of the pitch now," he admitted. "We have Jay, Daniel and Salomon, and they're all playing well.
"Daniel has got to get up to speed, I've got to give him game time.
"The decision to start him instead of Jay last week was a tough one and maybe in hindsight I would have done it differently.
"But you have to remember that Jay, of all our players, puts in more work rate and more energy than the other two strikers for sure.
"He had two tough games (against Liverpool and Manchester City). This week he's had a week's rest, we'll see what I go with. The 60 minutes that Daniel had will do him good.
"Those three look in good shape, we're probably in better shape at the top of the pitch than we have been all year. So we take that to Chelsea."