CHRIS Brunt has tipped Gareth McAuely to defy his age and remain a Barclays Premier League force for years to come.
The Baggies centre-half, who turns 34 in December, has continued to go from strength from strength in only his second-ever top-flight season.
And he has been the bedrock of eighth-placed Albion’s success this term – missing just one game.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him as a lad, or of his performances on the pitch,” said Brunt.
“He’s a good friend of mine - and he’s been massive for us.
“From day one, since he stepped into the team, he has been our most consistent player.
“And that’s coming from someone who had never played in the Premier League until he was 31.
“I had known him for a long time and I knew he was a good defender but when it came to the Premier League it was as unknown for me as it was for everybody else, and probably to him as well.
“But he has stepped up and been fantastic for us for the last couple of years, and he’s a great lad to have around as well.
“He’s a fit lad.
“He very rarely misses training and in pre-season he can run all day.
“He’s a bit of a freak and I’d say he’s got at least another couple of years in his locker at this level because he makes it look so easy.
“He’s a fantastic defender.
"When balls go into the box he heads them away and does his job.
“That’s all you ask from your centre-half. You want them to defend, and he’s a big talker and an influence on the pitch as well.
“He seems to work well with Jonas Olsson as well and that’s an important partnership in any team.”