Darren Moore: Craig Dawson ‘like a new signing’ for West Brom
Darren Moore says having Craig Dawson back in the team is like making a ‘new signing’.
Dawson played his first minutes for the Baggies after handing in a transfer request over summer in their 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough last Friday.
And while Moore gave no clues as to whether he’d feature in tonight’s Carabao Cup match with Mansfield Town, he did confirm the defender was a big part of his plans this season.
“It was terrific for the group to have Craig back in the action again on Friday,” said Albion’s head coach. “The fans do not need me to tell them how important a player he is for the club. He will be like a new signing.
“He’s got his fitness levels back up to where we can now look forward to him figuring strongly in our plans.”
Defeat to Boro brought a three-game winning streak to a shuddering halt, but Moore has been pleased with how his players have responded in training.
Tonight’s home fixture against League Two opposition is a warm-up for Stoke’s visit to The Hawthorns at the weekend, and considering the loan window is still open, Moore is braced for a ‘heavy week’.
“We got back into training over the weekend and I have been pleased with the reaction we have had,” said Moore. “The players know this is the Championship season and this is what it is going to be like – ups and downs.
“We’ve now got a big week with this game against Mansfield, then the transfer window closing until January and finally the match against Stoke. It’s a heavy week.
“The cup tie is all we are thinking about now because Mansfield will be absolutely fired up for this and are going to be difficult opponents.
“Their pre-season results against Championship opposition showed their capabilities.
“It will be a tough game for us and we have to be absolutely right in terms of our preparation and attitude to get through.
“Whatever team I select we will have to be at our best.”
Despite losing at the Riverside, Moore is pleased with how his new-look Albion side is developing.
“There’s no doubt that it is going to be a difficult place for any team to go to,” he said. “They’ve all been tough away days but I think we are making progress.
“There were big passages when we managed the game and the ball well. They went man-to-man against us and we were up against a team which was shaped to stop us at any cost.
“We were undone by one lapse of concentration in the last few seconds.
“We had 30 set plays to cope with on the night – corners, free-kicks, throw-ins and we dealt resolutely with 29 of them.
“But playing that way is all about playing the percentages and eventually something broke for them.
“I was a bit stunned at the finish because I was thinking ‘Where did that come from?’ It was hard to take.”