We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…

Kevin Phillips agrees with Mike Dean’s decision to send Semi Ajayi off as West Brom drew 0-0 with Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Ajayi was shown a straight red card for denying the Clarets an obvious goalscoring opportunity when he deliberately handled the ball near the halfway line.

Had he not done it, Matej Vydra would have likely had a free run at goal to score past Sam Johnstone.

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Phillips understands the arguments surrounding Ajayi’s sending off as it was so high up the pitch but he believes Vydra’s pace would have seen him have a clear opportunity to score.

“By the letter of the law, it is handball. It looked deliberate like he just put his hand out to stop the ball,” Phillips told West Brom News.

“The argument is that he was so far up the pitch, would he have been able to recover? I don’t think he would have. Vydra would have been away and by the time Ajayi caught up, he would have been on goal.

“When I saw it, my immediate reaction was that he’s going to get sent off and once the ref looked at it, he had no hesitation. It’s just a reaction one and he’s denied someone the chance to run at goal and possibly score. Overall, he got the decision right.”

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Ajayi’s handball seemed like a stupid mistake at first but let’s face it, if he didn’t do it, West Brom could have lost that match.

Vydra and Jay Rodriguez would have more than likely found themselves in a two-versus-one against goalkeeper Johnstone so probably would have scored.

And as seen in the rest of the game, Albion couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo so Burnely would have probably gone on to win by at least one goal.

West Brom rallied and performed better with 10 men, which is encouraging ahead of playing Brighton at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Ajayi won’t be available but there’s still a chance we can get a result versus the south coast side.

In other West Brom news, Big Sam has shared an update on Robert Snodgrass’ condition after he missed the Burnley match.

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