West Brom manager Slaven Bilic has revealed Ahmed Hegazi was handed a place in the starting lineup for his side’s 3-0 win over Bristol City on Saturday afternoon because of his performances in training.
Having been kept out of the side by injury early in the season, Hegazi has been forced to bide his time in search of a place in the starting lineup, but was given the opportunity to stake a claim for that role at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
The Egyptian was handed just his sixth league start of the season in that win, coming into the side in place of Kyle Bartley, the only change to the XI from the Baggies’ 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest last time out, although it seems Bartley himself has done little wrong in the eyes of his manager.
Speaking after the game about his decision to bring Hegazi back into the side, Bilic told the Birmingham Mail: “He deserved it. He deserved it. His work rate in training made me give him a chance. It made me decide to give him a chance.
“Barts has had a great season, but Ahmed deserved his chance and he did really well.”
It seems, however, as though Bilic is keeping an open mind when it comes to rotating his side, as the Croatian continued: “We need everyone though. So far we have needed everybody and from now on we are going to need everybody. That’s it.”
Following that win over Bristol City, West Brom are now nine points clear of the play-off places at the top of the Championship table, ahead of the visits of Preston and Wigan to The Hawthorns later this week.
I think this is a sensible approach for Bilic to take.
Hegazi has shown on plenty of occasions in the past that he is more than capable of doing a job in West Brom’s backline, so there shouldn’t have been much concern about making this change.
With matches coming thick and fast, it does seem as though rotation could be a sensible policy for the Baggies, in order to keep key players fresh at such an important part of the season.
Indeed, that result on Saturday – with a clean sheet going alongside those three goals going forward for West Brom – means it does feel as though Bilic’s decision to make that change has certainly been vindicated.