CRAIG Dawson is determined to grasp any opportunity that comes his way as fellow defender Jonas Olsson prepares to serve a two-match suspension.
Dawson was recalled to Pepe Mel’s starting XI for Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Swansea in what was a new-look 3-5-2 formation alongside Olsson and Gareth McAuley.
It was only his fourth Barclays Premier League start of the season and a welcome return to South Wales having made his top-flight debut for Albion at the Liberty Stadium in 2011 in what was a 3-0 defeat.
With Olsson set to miss Saturday’s trip to Hull as well as the subsequent home clash against Cardiff having collected his tenth booking of the season, 23-year-old Dawson has the chance to stake a claim for a regular starting berth in Albion’s backline.
And he is keen to do everything in his power to help boost the Baggies’ survival hopes and become a firm fixture on Mel’s team sheet in the process.
“It’s a massive opportunity,” he said.
“Obviously we need someone to step in and help the defence and hopefully I can do that.”
And Dawson also admits it would be nice to break his scoring duck for Albion at the KC Stadium should he be selected.
He added: “I’ve seemed to score everywhere else (Rochdale, Bolton and England Under-21s), I score in training but I just haven’t managed to find the net in a game here.
“The lads keep reminding me of that as well.”
Albion’s victory at Swansea ended an eight-match winless run and was head coach Mel’s first since taking charge.
Centre-back Dawson admits the three points have helped have a positive effect at the club’s training ground this week and put a spring back in the step.
Yet no-one is getting carried away ahead another crucial away game at Hull this weekend.
“Everyone is working hard and with a smile on our faces as well, you get that extra 10 per cent out of the players,” he said. “We’ve had some good training sessions and we’re all getting ready for the weekend.
“Everyone has been working hard but we’ve just been missing the win, now it’s come and everyone is smiling.
“But the win at Swansea is behind us now so we’re all looking forward to the Hull game. Hopefully we can get a win there as well.”
There promises to be a familiar face lying in wait on Humberside.
Striker Shane Long completed a January switch to Hull following two-and-a-half years at The Hawthorns.
And instead of stopping his former team-mate on the training pitch, Dawson must now concentrate on ensuring the Irishman has a quiet afternoon for the Tigers.
“We’ve just got to be focused and alert all game because he’s always alive,” Dawson said.
“He’s a great player and a great lad as well, it’ll be a tough task for us to keep control of him but I’m sure we’ll know all of his runs and his movements as well so it’ll be a good test.
“We both know each other. We go into every game knowing about the strikers but especially Shane, we’ll have to be alert all game.”