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Mel confirms Dawson to start against Palace

6 February 2014 16:51

West Brom head coach Pepe Mel has confirmed centre-back Craig Dawson will start against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Jonas Olsson is unavailable for the encounter at Selhurst Park after sustaining a hamstring injury in last Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Experienced Uruguay international Diego Lugano is another option, but he faced criticism for his performance in the club's 4-3 defeat to Aston Villa at the back end of January.

Dawson, who spent time on loan at Bolton Wanderers last season, has been linked with a temporary switch away from The Hawthorns, but Mel says West Brom intend to play the 23-year-old.

"For me Dawson is the future of West Brom," said the Spaniard. "He is a very good centre-back and he wants to play matches.

"That's normal, but for now it's better that he stays here. In London we need him to play.

"Dawson is in the XI in London. He is ready and he wants to play - for me it's very good."

Thievy Bifouma is available for selection after completing his loan move from Espanyol on transfer deadline day, but Mel says it is too early to consider the forward for a starting role.

He added: "Thievy has only had two training sessions here. He wants to help West Brom but for the first XI it's too soon.

"Against Crystal Palace he will be on the bench."

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