Tony Pulis says Saido Berahino’s attitude did not cost him a place in the starting XI as West Brom defeated Stoke City 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.
West Brom were without Salomon Rondon and Victor Anichebe for the match at The Hawthorns but the absence of those forwards did not prompt a recall for Berahino, who has been the subject of some stern rebukes from Pulis this season after apparently being unsettled by repeated interest from Tottenham.
Berahino was left out of the starting line-up for the 1-0 victory over Newcastle last Monday and Pulis declared him “lucky to be on the bench” for that game following a disciplinary issue.
However, the Welshman insisted the 22-year-old was the victim of nothing more than a tough selection decision this time around, as Rickie Lambert was named ahead of him to face Stoke.
The England Under-21 international had to wait until the 85th minute to find himself involved off the bench, as goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Jonny Evans won it.
“No, not all,” the manager told Sky Sports when asked if Berahino’s omission was a form of punishment.
“Saido’s trained well all week and he’s really disappointed I’ve not started him. I’ve made the decision to go with Ric [Lambert].
“We thought Ric … would be the ideal choice today and that’s what you do as a manager, you make decisions.”
West Brom, having led through Sessegnon’s 60th-minute goal, conceded an equaliser to Jonathan Walters with nine minutes to go and looked set to drop two important points.
The hosts received a major boost, though, when Geoff Cameron was perhaps harshly sent off in the 83rd minute following a tangle with Claudio Yacob.
Pulis claimed he had not seen the incident but acknowledged its importance, as his players went on to snatch the victory thanks to Evans’ goal deep into injury time.
“It certainly changed it,” he said of the dismissal.
“They scored and got a bit of momentum. If you lose a player then the momentum swings.
“I haven’t seen the incident, so I’ll have a look. Yac (Yacob) is not like that, he’s quite a tough lad. Whether Geoff’s caught him or not…”
West Brom are now nine points clear of the relegation zone, affording them a considerably healthier outlook going in 2016 after a slow start to the campaign.
“Back-to-back victories are very important in this league … in a season where goodness knows what it’s going to take to stay up,” Pulis added.
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