West Brom edge closer to team of centre-halves

Date published: Friday 15th April 2016 1:35

Jonas Olsson Gareth McAuley

West Brom manager Tony Pulis believes Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson signing new contracts keeps the club’s solid foundations in place.

The experienced defenders have both put pen to paper on one-year deals, prolonging their stay at The Hawthorns until the summer of 2017.

McAuley is 37 towards the end of this year but the Northern Ireland international, who is likely to represent his country at the forthcoming European Championships in France, has been a rock at the heart of the Albion defence this season, making 33 appearances to date. Olsson, 33, has featured 27 time during the current campaign.

At his pre-match press conference on Friday morning ahead of the visit of Watford in the Barclays Premier League, Pulis praised both players’ character.

”Gareth and Jonas have been smashing again this year and they’re the foundation that this club has been built on for the past six or seven years,” he said.

”Their attitude in training and with the younger players has been absolutely first class. They’re really good pros, great examples to the younger players that will come into this club eventually. They’re good examples for the academy lads as well.

”The fact they’ve been at the football club for such a long period as well, they’ve got West Brom through them. They know how the club works, they know the way it’s run and they’re good lads. That’s important.

”With Jonas and Gareth now signing we’ve got a good backbone to go into next season, it’s just reward for them.”

McAuley and Olsson, who have been with West Brom since 2011 and 2008 respectively, have also impressed Pulis with their fitness levels.

McAuley is Albion’s oldest outfield player to play in the Premier League and he shows no signs of letting up.

”His fitness levels are fantastic, when you think he’s played a load of games with Northern Ireland as well this season coupled with all the games he’s played for us,” said Pulis.

”Jonas has had a bad injury but came back from that and been outstanding in some of the games he’s played this year. He needs a good pre-season to get him back to the levels he was before, but at his age there’s no reason he can’t go on.

”It shows the level of fitness that people can obtain if they look after themselves.”

Pulis will check on Salomon Rondon, Alex Pritchard and Callum McManaman before finalising his plans for Saturday’s home game against Watford.

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