Dara O’Shea has dodged all of the potential pitfalls to make himself a crucial component of this West Brom side staging a late push for Premier League survival.
Despite failing to shutout Everton and losing 1-0 at The Hawthorns on Thursday the 22-year-old can hold his head high as he bids to make himself a first-team fixture.
In his first season in the big time O’Shea has racked up 18 starts from 20 Premier League appearances, an impressive total for a player who only had 17 Championship games under his belt.
He has flitted across the defence as a full-back on both sides as well as in his favoured central defensive role, and it is here where he has started to step up.
O’Shea came on in this role in the first-half of the 0-0 draw at Burnley on February 20 after Semi Ajay’s early dismissal and he has not looked back since.
Albion might have only played two games since but the Irish defender has been an absolute rock leading to Steve Madeley of The Athletic describing his transformation from ‘versatile understudy to key pillar of [Sam] Allardyce’s defence’.
Big Sam had a huge decision as to whether to reintroduce Ajayi back into the fold against Everton but he opted to keep faith with O’Shea and he was rewarded.
According to Wyscout he was successful with 81% [13/16] of his duels which is his highest Premier League figure ever and a vast upsurge on his 57.5% season average.
This made him the top Albion performer in this metric.
An 80% [8/10] defensive duel success rate showed his sterling efforts to guard his own goal against the Toffees.
He also made a mammoth 15 ball recoveries, something he has not topped during the current campaign and only Okay Yokuslu  made more.
Another joint-best season stat he made was eight clearances, double more than any other Albion player.
O’Shea looks at home in the middle of Big Sam’s back four and must be kept here for the rest of the season.
It might be tempting to throw Ajayi back in after a defeat to lean on his height and experience but we think trusting in O’Shea will pay dividends as shown on Thursday.
In other West Brom news, fans could be in The Hawthorns sooner than first expected.