The selection of 27-year-old Semi Ajayi as a central midfielder against Blackpool on Saturday was a reflection of the lack of options available to West Brom in midfield.
Ajayi is no stranger to the position having played there for Rotherham United prior to joining the Baggies, with Transfermarkt recording a total of 22 appearances for the Millers in a defensive midfield role during the 2018/19 Championship season.
However, that was a different side with a different manager, in a different league.
Romaine Sawyers had started West Brom’s last nine games before the trip to Blackpool on Saturday so he probably needed the rest, although he came on in the second half and ended up playing over an hour as the game dragged on into extra-time.
The form of Sawyers, though, has been of increasing concern to Baggies fans with a series of ineffective and lazy displays ensuring the discontent is growing louder.
Jake Livermore returned to the side after missing West Brom’s previous three games through a suspension picked up in Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge, but he has only started three games at the base of the midfield (per WhoScored) and might be less suited to that role.
With Sawyers out of sorts Livermore might have to be used more frequently as the deepest lying midfielder in the team, but if he does not impress or is absent again then Albion’s options are severely limited in this department, with Conor Gallagher as the only other senior midfield man, and his talents are best suited towards the top end of the pitch.
However thoughts of converting Ajayi back into a holding midfield role should be quickly banished.
While he was not the worst performer as the Baggies meekly exited the FA Cup, he is not up to the standard required to knit the midfield together in the Premier League.
His pass accuracy (69%) was lower than every West Brom starter except Branislav Ivanovic (67).
He is not the most composed player on the ball while he also lacks the energy and agility to get around the midfield and close opponents down.
To be fair, the same could be said of Sawyers and Livermore, which is exactly why signing a central midfielder is so crucial for Allardyce in January.
A striker is understandably a top priority after Karlan Grant’s injury and the loan exit of Charlie Austin, combined with the lowly 11 Premier League goals they have scored this season.
But a move for a dynamic midfielder who can knit play should also be considered as paramount to the Baggies chances of Premier League survival, and Allardyce should be demanding one is brought in.
Otherwise the bleak possibility of Ajayi starting regularly in midfield could become more likely.
In other West Brom news, some fans air their disgruntled feelings at the behaviour of this under-fire performer.