THERE will be no sentiment on the pitch tomorrow when Fulham take on West Brom - but Chris Baird admits he owes Albion boss Roy Hodgson a huge debt of gratitute.
The Whites defender’s career was seemingly on the skids until former boss Hodgson took over at Craven Cottage in 2007 and after showing such faith in the Northern Ireland international, the player became one of his most consistent performers.
“I was in the team and played 52 games under him. He gave me my opportunity in the team and I’m thankful for that," Baird told the Chronicle.
“You can speak to him about anything - about football or off-the-pitch stuff. He’s such a nice man.
“I think my career developed under him. In a way he transformed it by giving me the run of games that I needed and I was grateful to him for playing me in all these positions - right back, centre half and midfield. I was just happy to be part of his team and his plans."
Fulham travel to the Hawthorns still seeking a first win of the season and are in the bottom three along with Albion, who sit at the foot of the table.
But the bare statistics do not make either side poor, according to Baird, who is wary of any Hodgson team.
He is also upbeat following Fulham’s hugely uplifting fightback against Man City on Sunday.
“I think he [Hodgson] will be hard to beat, that’s one thing you can say for sure," Baird said.
“He worked wonders here, but we’ll be going there to get the three points off him, that’s the most important thing for Fulham.
“I think if we show the quality we did against Man City, we’ll be more than happy. We need to climb that table quicker rather than later.
“It’s not really been a big issue [looking for a first win]. Obviously, it’s a little bit frustrating, but to come back from 2-0 down against that lot [Man City], with the quality they’ve got, it’s a massive achievement.
“I know and the players know that if we stick together and play like that, then we’ll be more than fine."