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The Northern Irishman has backed his Baggies team-mate to keep performing at the top for several seasons after the 33-year-old's second campaign in the top flight

West Brom captain Chris Brunt has praised defender Gareth McAuley, insisting that even at 33 he can continue to perform at a high level for several years yet.

McAuley has missed just one game of a successful campaign which sees the Baggies lying eighth in the table, even after some tipped them for relegation following Roy Hodgson’s departure.

And while it may only be the centre-back’s second ever top-flight season, but Brunt is adamant he has been impressed with the way McAuley has been playing.

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"I can’t speak highly enough of him as a lad, or of his performances on the pitch," Brunt told the club's official website.

"He’s a good friend of mine - and he’s been massive for us. From day one, since he stepped into the team, he has been our most consistent player.

"And that’s coming from someone who had never played in the Premier League until he was 31.

"I had known him for a long time and I knew he was a good defender but when it came to the Premier League it was as unknown for me as it was for everybody else, and probably to him as well.

"But he has stepped up and been fantastic for us for the last couple of years, and he’s a great lad to have around as well."
 
Brunt was also full of admiration for his team-mate’s work ethic and the way he has defended this season.

"He’s a fit lad," he added. "He very rarely misses training and in pre-season he can run all day.

"He’s a bit of a freak and I’d say he’s got at least another couple of years in his locker at this level because he makes it look so easy.

"He’s a fantastic defender. When balls go into the box he heads them away and does his job.

"That’s all you ask from your centre-half. You want them to defend, and he’s a big talker and an influence on the pitch as well.

"He seems to work well with Jonas Olsson as well and that’s an important partnership in any team."

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