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Slaven Bilic backs Sam Johnstone to make difference for West Brom

Southampton v West Bromwich Albion – Premier League – St Mary’s
(Image credit: Mike Hewitt)

Slaven Bilic believes Sam Johnstone can make the difference in West Brom’s survival bid.

The goalkeeper is poised to make his 100th appearance for the Baggies at Brighton on Monday.

Johnstone, who joined from Manchester United two years ago, kept his first clean sheet of the season against Burnley in Albion’s 0-0 draw at The Hawthorns last Monday.

West Brom are looking for their first win of the season at the Amex and boss Bilic said: “Without a good keeper nobody has got a chance. Sir Alex (Ferguson) said that and he wasn’t thinking about staying up.

“We need him, that’s why we have a good keeper and I’m extremely happy.

“In the beginning, not because of his quality but because he was new in the Premier League, it was a new challenge for him.

“You could read then: ‘How is he going to do in the Premier League?’. They (the players) read it all and it all goes in their heads.

“After the Everton and Chelsea games there was a little bit of: ‘Could he have saved that one?’. Then he had a couple of good games. He made some good saves against Southampton and Burnley and he’s confident.

“That is what we need. We need that kind of performance every week to stay up and hopefully he will give it.

“He is very confident now and we are going to do everything to be challenged by our other goalkeepers but we want him to maintain this level and even improve.”

Bilic could keep faith with the team which drew with Burnley after an improved performance following their limp 2-0 defeat at Southampton.

“The players who played against Burnley did so because they showed me more than the others,” the manager, who made six changes on Monday, added.

“It’s all about competition on the training ground or on the pitch and it can always change in your favour. I thought that the team needed to be changed a bit.”