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Ajayi ready to ‘kick-on’ after Brazil test

18 October 2019

Semi Ajayi admits his confidence has taken a boost after helping to keep Brazil quiet on Sunday afternoon - but says he is by no means the finished product.

Ajayi played a pivotal role as Nigeria held the star-studded, five-time world champions to a 1-1 draw in Singapore.

The centre-half, who can also play in midfield, has also been ever-present for the Baggies so far this season - forging a strong partnership with Kyle Bartley in the heart of Slaven Bilić’s defence.

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And perfectionist Semi, who has been lauded by Baggies fans for his performances since arriving from Rotherham in the summer, believes it’s now time for him to “kick-on”.

“I’m feeling really good,” he said after returning from international duty on Tuesday. “The [Brazil] game went really well. I’ve given myself a lot of confidence coming up against the big stars. Hopefully I can carry that form into our league game on the weekend.

“You want to play against the best players and test yourself. If you can come out of that with a good performance and a good result then that is even better so the trip went really well.

“I don’t really focus on their names, it is more about what they do on the pitch. I felt like myself and my team-mates dealt with their threats really well and it is something we can take a lot of pride from.”

Semi says he’s “over the moon” with how quickly he’s settled into life at Albion, adding that the detail Slaven Bilić goes into has the players all “singing off the same hymn sheet.”

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“It’s a joy to be involved in. Everyone is on the same page, the manager has got us singing off the same hymn sheet. He is very detailed in the way he tells us how he wants us to play and everyone has taken it on board and it has been a joy to be a part of and to watch. Some of the forward play at times has been breathtaking.

“I’ve been over the moon to come straight into the team and settle in. The lads have welcomed me really well and the fact that the team has been winning as well has made it even easier for me to settle. It’s been a really, really positive environment for me to come into and long may it continue.

“I’ve been happy with how I have played. There is still definitely more to come from me. The start has been really good and I just need to kick on now. Slaven talks to me daily, he is always giving me pointers on how I can improve or little bits of information that he thinks could help me that I may not have seen. I am always picking his brains for things I can learn. He has been really, really good with me.”

The London-born defender adds: “I’ve been going into every game thinking we are going to win, no matter who we play against. A big part of that is down to the form we have shown here. We have been nearly faultless. We have got one defeat and even that defeat we played really, really well.

“The fact that the performances have been really good and consistent is giving me the confidence to know that when I step on the pitch it is likely that we are going to continue.

“As they say the league table doesn’t lie. After 11 games, almost a quarter of a way through the season now, the fact that we are where we are can only be on merit and it’s important that we don’t get too carried away now. We just need to take every game one by one and make sure we keep the levels that we have already achieved so far.”

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