Irvine feels midfielder is being harsh on himself
ALAN Irvine claims he has found himself trying to lift Youssouf Mulumbu's spirits - with the midfielder having become his own biggest critic.
The DR Congo international has found himself out of the starting line-up on a frequent basis this season - the first time he has experienced such a sustained spell on the sidelines during his five-year Albion stint.
He was also left out of last weekend's matchday squad at Chelsea after returning from international duty on Friday.
Irvine has revealed that Mulumbu was not expecting to play at Stamford Bridge and had, in fact, been extremely self-critical of his recent performances.
While Irvine regards such analysis as a positive, he feels Mulumbu is being harsh on himself.
"The reason that Youssouf didn't play at Chelsea is because he was away on international duty and was the last one to play," said Irvine.
"He got back later than everyone else, wasn't here for any preparations that we did so right away him and Jason Davidson (who was with Australia) had very little chance of being involved.
"It would have been a big ask for them.
"Youssouf didn't expect to play and was actually quite harsh on himself in terms of how he's played recently.
"That's refreshing in one way but it means you have to pick them up in the other way. So far from feeling aggrieved he was actually quite self critical and I found myself lifting him and telling him that he's a good player, which he is. He is more than ready to make a contribution."