Roy Hodgson to give Carlos Vela Albion chance

Roy Hodgson today insisted Carlos Vela is ready to start matches in Albion's fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Roy Hodgson today insisted Carlos Vela is ready to start matches in Albion's fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

The Baggies head coach revealed he tried to sign Vela for Fulham and claimed the Mexican has proved he must be 'taken seriously' in the Albion squad.

The on-loan 21-year-old has started just once since moving to The Hawthorns from Arsenal but scored his first goal in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Wolves.

And Hodgson said: "He's ready to start games. He started games for Arsenal so he's more than ready.

"He's not that young. He's 21. Jonas Thern captained Sweden at the age of 19 when I had him at Malmo so 21 isn't a problem.

"In fact I think it's a very good age. He wasn't being left out due to his age, it was because people preferred other players.

"But he certainly showed enough in the 20 minutes he was on the pitch on Sunday to show I have to take him seriously and it's good that he took his goal chance well.

"I knew of him. In fact we considered him when I was at Fulham, in January last year.

"Arsene (Wenger) and I spoke and he said that he might consider him going out on loan.

"We lodged an interest but then he got injured so didn't go anywhere. But we'd studied him and thought he'd be a good addition."

Vela could start in Monday's Premier League match at Stoke but Hodgson today repeated his defence of another striker, Marc-Antoine Fortune, who received criticism from some supporters for missing chances against Wolves.

Hodgson said: "Forwards have to live with negativity. Goalkeepers and forwards are either heroes and villains and are often judged harshly.

"I've often thought that sometimes a forward does well but doesn't always bring off the final pass or shot and fans won't see how hard he's worked to get to that ball, or the strong blow he's received in trying to control it, or the push in the back he's had.

"But I'm afraid if forwards do miss chances then they are going to incur the wrath of the crowd and whatever good work they've done in the meantime.

"Yet they can become heroes by playing badly for most of the match and then scoring a winning goal."

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