Former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan has praised the performances of West Bromwich Albion full-back Conor Townsend in the absence of Kieran Gibbs in an interview with Football Insider.

Gibbs has missed a large chunk of the season due to toe and hamstring injuries and Townsend has deputised for the former Arsenal man.

Whelan has been very impressed with Townsend and has even claimed that Baggies manager Slaven Bilic will keep faith with him despite the imminent return of Gibbs.

“I think he will, I think he will for now. Slaven Bilic, like Marcelo Bielsa, has shown great faith in his players and when you’ve come in and done your job well, there’s no reason to take them out,” Whelan said.

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“If someone gets injured or suspended and someone comes in and does a good job, they’ve then got to fight for their place and taking their chance.”

“He’ll know that he’s got competitions now, competitions from a very, very good full-back, he’ll have to keep his game at that certain level, if not raise it.”

Gibbs has been absent since Albion’s 1-1 draw with Leeds United on New Years Day and despite his return to fitness, Bilic has admitted they are being cautious so as to avoid another recurrence of the injury.

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Townsend has now started six of their last seven league games and looked more than comfortable as well as forming an impressive partnership with new loan signing Callum Robinson on the left-hand side.

Gibbs offers undoubted quality and added experience to the West Brom side but with the Midlands club now back on track following a mid-season slump, Bilic could keep faith with the team that is serving him so well.

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