Slaven Bilic: Darnell Furlong decision about balance

Slaven Bilic says the need to strike the right balance between attack and defence is the only reason Darnell Furlong is not currently starting for Albion.

Darnell Furlong has missed out on a starting place over the more defensively-minded Dara O’Shea in recent games. Image: AMA
Darnell Furlong has missed out on a starting place over the more defensively-minded Dara O’Shea in recent games. Image: AMA

A regular earlier in the campaign, Furlong has had to make do with a place on the bench recently with his last start coming against Stoke on January 20.

An attack-minded full-back, the 24-year-old has impressed fans with his all-action displays when he has played this term.

But the more defensively-minded Dara O’Shea has been given the nod at right-back in recent weeks – with the youngster going on to cement his place thanks to a string of towering displays.

And with the left-sided Conor Townsend another full-back who likes to push forward, Bilic says Furlong is simply a victim of circumstance at the minute.

“He (Furlong) is training well,” the head coach said.

“It’s as I said, it’s about balance. We wanted to find the balance in the team.

“At one stage of the season we were lacking creativity, we were not dangerous enough – we weren’t creating much.

“When Grady (Diangana) got injured, Matheus (Pereira) got suspended, some players had a dip in form and we were not fluid enough.

“Then we needed him, from the back, and he was also doing well.

“In this moment, now, we have to find the balance between defence and offence. That stability at the back - that’s what we’ve found in Dara.

“As I said, he’s still a very important member of the team. He will play. It’s not that I’m not happy with his overall game, especially if we’re talking about the season – his first season at the club.

“But we needed something different there, and that is the reason. The only reason.”

While O’Shea has impressed at right-back, Townsend has also grown in stature at left-back in recent weeks with Kieran Gibbs injured.

And Bilic admitted he is pleased with the former Hull man.

“Conor is doing well and he deserves it because he’s working hard, he’s always training and is always available,” the Croatian added.

“He’s playing good.

“Of course that makes a big impact on our game.

“If you want to achieve what we want to achieve you need every position to have a good player, at least a reliable player, not to mention some extras.

“At the moment, we are having that and with Conor he’s playing good. I’m happy with him.”

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