West Brom manager Tony Mowbray hailed the impact made by bargain-buy central defender Shelton Martis and challenged him to hold onto the place he has earned by "default" for the remainder of the season.
Injuries to several players, plus Albion's failure to find a solid centre-back pairing, led to him being handed his Premier League debut in the goalless draw at West Ham nine days ago.
Mowbray told PA Sport: "All season, we have had problems in defence. The two experienced players we have got in terms of age around the 27 mark, Abdoulaye Meite and Jonas Olsson, have only played seven games together this season out of 30."
The 26-year-old has been well down the pecking order and had spells on loan at Scunthorpe last season and during the current campaign at Doncaster.
Martis impressed sufficiently alongside Jonas Olsson to be given another chance in the 1-1 home draw with Bolton at the weekend.
Mowbray added: "There has been no consistency in that position. The other two youngsters, Leon Barnett and Ryan Donk, with total respect to them, are young boys working their socks off.
"Yet they have never been anywhere near the sort of quality that they play against week in and week out and they have found it tough.
"You get to the point where you can't keep going back to the same players who have had opportunity after opportunity after opportunity and Shelton has been given his chance almost by default."
Mowbray added: "Shelton has come in, been on loan to Doncaster this season, came to our club for Â£50,000 from Hibernian, and yet against West Ham and Bolton he looked like a Premier League player.
"He has got the opportunity because of circumstance really, because of injuries etc, and his performance level in training."
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