Roy Hodgson admits Marc Antonie Fortune’s rejuvenation at Stoke has repaid the faith he has shown in the striker.
Fortune was given a surprise recall to the starting XI to face the Potters but repaid the decision with an excellent example of forward play.
The former Celtic man was loaned out earlier in the season to Doncaster Rovers. But Hodgson insists the temporary switch was for the forward to gain much needed match sharpness and he has always remained in his thoughts for selection.
"I think he's always had a future here," he said.
"We loaned him out to Doncaster, I took the chance over a month to let him go because he really did need to get some game time.
"It's worked out really well in his favour and in ours because he's come back stronger, mentally.
"The confidence he got playing at Doncaster is now shining through.
"But I've never lost faith in Marc-Antoine Fortune.
"He's a good centre forward and when you're discussing other players you need to be certain that they're better than the ones you've got.
"So, before you start saying 'well Fortune is not in the team at the moment because of Long and Odemwingie, therefore he can go', I think you've got to be very careful because it could well be that the person you bring in to replace Marc-Antoine Fortune is not as good a player."
A shattered Fortune was substituted in the 83rd minute to the applause of Albion fans. Hodgson believes his eye-catching performance and hearing the Albion fans singing his name again will give the striker a confidence boost after his return to action.
Hodgson added: "It would have done him the world of good to hear the fans sing his name.
"I thought his hold-up play was fantastic.
"He wasted very few balls, he almost scored, and he was a major factor in the performance.
"I hope that will help him because it hasn't always been the case.
"Before I came he wasn't having a good time and the fans weren't cheering his name, so I hope that will give him confidence.
"Certainly the performance should give him confidence.
"It's also good for me to know that with Long and Odemwingie not playing, Fortune was there to do every bit as good a job as those two could have done."
Should Fortune be given a run of games after his performance against Stoke? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.