Sam Allardyce persuaded Ainsley Maitland-Niles to join struggling West Brom ahead of Leicester by promising him a chance in his preferred midfield role.

Arsenal star Maitland-Niles was deployed as wing-back by his parent club and courted by the Foxes in January for a similar role.

But Maitland-Niles,23, who has five England caps, chose lowly Albion after he persuaded Arsenal to release him ahead of the Euros on loan for more game-time.

The Gunners were also reportedly reluctant to loan Maitland-Niles to another high-flying rival.

Albion have benefited as Maitland-Niles has shone in nine starts ahead of Thursday’s visit to the King Power Stadium.

Baggies boss Allardyce has been delighted, especially in the previous 3-0 win over Southampton, but is now keen for Maitland-Niles to break his goal duck.

Allardyce revealed: “I spoke to Ainsley on the fact, where do you want to play and what is your favourite position?

“The reason Ainsley chose West Brom is because he said: ‘I play in midfield, I want to play in midfield, I don’t want to play full-back’.

“It was a little bit surprising to me because he has played for Arsenal there a lot and England.



Ainsley Maitland-Niles is yet to open his goal-scoring account for West Brom but has impressed in midfield

“I said: ‘If that is your favourite position, then I can’t 100% guarantee that is where you are going to play but certainly that is where you will start’.

“Then of course like everybody else, performances will determine whether you stay in that position or not.

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“He was so focused on once I said you could play in that position, he chose us.

“Why he didn’t chose Leicester, perhaps it was that? I am just glad he is here.

“His performances have grown over the last few weeks and I believe he is enjoying his football and being a regular first team member, even in these difficult times we face.

“He has helped over the last nine games to improve our performances.



Sam Allardyce has masterminded back to back wins to give West Brom hope and wants a hat-trick when they visit Leicester on Thursday

“Let’s hope that will continue and that means he will still have to play to the level, particularly that he showed against Southampton.

“Could we do with a goal or two from him, yes of course, we could do with sharing out the goals a little bit more.

“But he must keep getting the chances and opportunities by playing as well as he is playing through the midfield area which will create more opportunities for him and others.”

Back to back victories have given Albion’s faint survival hopes a boost.

Their upturn in form has also improved Allardyce’s standing among fans after arriving in December and suffering three heavy defeats in four games.

Asked about his popularity, the veteran boss,66, smiled: “I’m told it’s getting better.

“There was not a lot of love I would say in the early stages when we were getting beat by four or five,.

“I’m not stupid, those comments wouldn’t have been very nice.

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“But hopefully, as they have seen their team play better their opinion has changed on what we are trying to do. We have all tried our best.

“It’s very difficult to say that’s going to be good enough, given the position we’re in, but we have improved and hopefully the West Brom fans have seen that.”





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