LUKE Daniels is delighted to have finally made his Albion debut – following a nine-year wait for a first-team appearance.
The 25-year-old keeper, who signed a new two-year contract at The Hawthorns in March, replaced Ben Foster in the 77th minute of Saturday’s goalless draw at Everton.
The 6ft5in stopper joined the Baggies’ Academy in July 2004 after leaving Manchester United that summer.
And Daniels is ecstatic to have played in the Barclays Premier League – insisting the experience has made him hungrier than ever to earn a first-team spot.
“It was incredible,” said Daniels.
“I can’t believe that I’ve played - and I was really happy to get on.
“I’ve been working hard, hoping that an opportunity will come, and if it does come, making sure I’m in the right frame of mind and condition to perform.
“It’s unfortunate that Ben got injured but it gave me a good opportunity.
“We didn’t want to be conceding so it was good that I managed to make a couple of saves.
“I just had to go on and make sure I didn’t let anybody down.
“I knew I was only one injury from playing in the Premier League, which is where I want to be.
“I’ve been patient for a long time and I’m happy to still be here and playing.
“Every footballer wants to play at this level and I’m no different.
“My aim is to be a regular week in, week out.
“It’s going to be difficult, but that’s the aim.
“There aren’t many people who have been here longer than me so it’s great that I’ve been able to stick it out and finally got a game in the Prem like I wanted to.”
Daniels, who has made 99 professional appearances during loan spells at seven different clubs, highlighted the impact the club’s current crop of goalkeepers have had on his development.
“I learn a lot,” added Daniels.
“You can’t help but learn from these people.
“Ben Foster, Dean Kiely and Boaz Myhill are full international goalkeepers and before that we had Scott Carson.
“I have been fortunate that I’ve been able to learn from some very good goalkeepers and hopefully I’ve been able to take little bits from each of them.
“I’m not going to be like any of them because I’m my own person, but I will pick up bits from each of them.”
The Bolton-born player could feature in Steve Clarke’s plans for tomorrow night’s Capital One Cup second-round clash with Newport (ko 8pm) – with Ben Foster (foot) and Boaz Myhill (wrist) currently struggling with injuries.
And Daniels says he is ready to start for the Baggies if called upon.
“I came in in pre-season hoping to be involved a bit more and get a few games, so if the opportunity comes I’ll be ready for it.
“I’m not sure about the situation with either Ben or Bo, or what the gaffer wants to do, but if the opportunity comes I will be ready to go.”