West Bromwich Albion defender Semi Ajayi was singled out by Lewis Cox following their 3-3 FA Cup draw against Chesterfield.
The Lowdown: Disappointing day
Championship outfit West Brom were forced to rescue a replay late on against National League side Chesterfield with a stoppage-time equaliser from Brandon Thomas-Asante sparing their blushes.
Carlos Corberan filled a mixed side with a blend of first-team players, fringe players and youngsters all selected to start against the side three divisions below.
It was a tough afternoon for Semi Ajayi in particular who completed his first 90 minutes since August after missing four months through injury.
The Latest: Cox’s criticism
Speaking at full time of the FA Cup clash, Cox singled out the 29-year-old in his post-match analysis on the Express & Star’s YouTube channel, saying:
(6:02) “There’s a lot to pick out about players who haven’t played in a long time, we haven’t really named names, but players who played for the first time in a long time, players who’ve been on the fringes, played the odd game in the Championship and it was a struggle for some of them.”
“It’s hard when you haven’t played for so long, when you’ve had a bad injury to come in and play, Ajayi looked rusty at best today, he was really off the pace but he hasn’t played for four months.”
The Verdict: Needs time
In what would’ve been a pleasing sight for Baggies fans to see Ajayi back on the pitch, he wasn’t at his best in the eyes of Cox. However, his stats weren’t bad as he won three duels, had a 90% passing accuracy, 76 touches and made seven clearances, though he did lose the ball 7 times (Sofascore).
It’s the first time he’s featured from the start since August and only made a cameo return against Reading last week following his reemergence from ligament damage.
A key figure in the Baggies backline at the beginning of the season where he started all seven of the opening Championship games under Steve Bruce, the Nigerian now has to win over new boss Corberan which will be difficult after that performance.
With a centre-back partnership of Erik Pieters and Dara O’Shea conceding just once in their last five league outings, Ajayi needed to grab a chance like this with him at risk of being shut out by the pair.
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