CRAIG Dawson says he is looking forward to learning more from experienced centre-half Gareth McAuley.
The pair started only their eighth game together when the Baggies drew 1-1 with Chelsea at The Hawthorns on Tuesday.
And Dawson believes he has plenty to learn from the veteran Northern Ireland international - who has clocked up almost 400 appearances in just under ten years as a professional.
“Gareth’s a top man," said the 23-year-old.
"He’s got so much experience.
"He’s a leader on the pitch and a great guy off it.
“He’s played so many games now and has so much experience that can help me.
“I’ve had two games in the team now and it’s been great for me to play.
“The Premier League is a top league and you have to be on guard all game.
“Gareth helps as he’s a top pro, a great leader, and he talks to me throughout the game."
Dawson started only his second Barclays Premier League fixture of the season at Crystal Palace last week after Jonas Olsson suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool six days earlier.
And the former Rochdale youngster admits he will have to turn out some impressive performances to keep his place in Pepe Mel's starting XI.
“It has been frustrating for me not playing too much but Gaz and Jonas have been very strong over the last few years," he added.
"They have a great partnership and understanding together.
“It has been tough but I’ve had to be patient and you just have to push your way into the team to keep everyone else on their toes.
“We’ve got a great squad and we need to keep working hard on the training pitch and hopefully get the right results.”
“It’s always great to play and it was a great performance from the lads against Chelsea.
“In each game I play I’m getting fitter, which always helps, and we’re in Spain now so hopefully I can keep improving my fitness and training hard.
"I’ve just got to try to work hard and get a regular spot.
Dawson admits he discussed the possibility of going out on loan with the club's hieararchy - but is pleased he stayed at The Hawthorns.
“There was talk of going out on loan and we did sit down and discuss it.
"But we all decided it was best for me to stick around and try to get some game time here.
“Who knows what would have happened if Jonas hadn’t got injured?
“It’s hard to say but we did look at a loan to try to get some football, but the plan was always to try to stay here if I could to get games.
“That was always the most important thing.
“The way it’s turned out means I’ve been able get games here."