By Kevin Phillips

21st Jan, 2020 | 4:26pm

Exclusive: Kevin Phillips baffled by 'Strange' decision in West Brom 'Sucker punch' v Stoke

Kevin Phillips admits he was baffled to see West Brom manager Slaven Bilic start Ahmed Hegazi in the defeat to Stoke City on Monday.

The former Baggies and England striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that he was surprised to see Semi Ajayi axed from the side after forming an impressive partnership with Kyle Bartley at the heart of the defence.

Hegazi, making just his sixth Championship appearance of the season, was partly culpable for Stoke’s winning goal, his attempted clearance rebounding off Tom Ince who went on to set up Tyrese Campbell for a tap in.

 

“They’ve been solid for the season, I was surprised to see Hegazi come back into the side when Ajayi looks solid,” Phillips told Football Insider.

“They look a solid partnership, him and Bartley, not many centre-forwards have got much change out of those two this season. I was surprised to see Hegazi come in, was he a little bit rusty?

“With his clearance, when he’s hit it off Tom Ince, he should have done a lot better with that, we all know that, he’ll know that. He should have just cleared it behind the goal, right into row Z. Slight mistake there, is that a little bit of not playing for a while.

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“Slaven’s made the decision, you have to back him but from what I gather, from the West Brom supporters, it was a strange decision to bring him back in on a night where everyone’s played and West Brom really want to win that game.

“It is a bit of a sucker punch to lose to a team that were fourth from bottom.” 

Hegazi missed the start of the season as a result of an ankle injury and has struggled to force his way back into Bilic’s plans, with just four league starts under his belt.

Other than goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, Ajayi has made the most appearances for the Baggies this term, Monday the first time he has sat out a Championship match.

In other West Brom news, it can be REVEALED that the club have set their sights on signing a giant Rangers player.