Bryan Robson didn't want to put any extra pressure on Albion's new signing Curtis Davies - but he couldn't help compare him to Paul McGrath.

The former Villa star is arguably the greatest centre-half the West Midlands has ever seen and Robson can see similarities in Davies.

However, while McGrath was a prodigious talent, he also had a well-documented dark side that involves heavy drinking binges and going AWOL.

But the player dubbed "Baby Rio" by Luton fans appears to be a level-headed young man. It was noticeable that both his family and his PFA agent were present to guide him through his first press conference.

It looks as though normality will be the norm for Davies and he will be making headlines on the back pages only if he develops as well as Robson hopes.

If the £3 million player can progress to become half as good as McGrath was in his heyday - while managing to lead a more restrained lifestyle - Robson will be doing cartwheels.

In a delicious twist of irony, as a big Manchester United fan one of Davies' heroes as a young boy was Birmingham boss Steve Bruce.

Birmingham had been tracking him as well, but were gazumped by Albion who outbid them and clinched a deal with only three minutes remaining in the transfer window.

And Robson is mightily pleased that he beat his crosscity rival and former teammate to the punch.

"People have compared him to Rio Ferdinand, but he has got to take the next step into Premiership football," said Robson. "He has take that in his stride and I don't like to categorise players, as he is his own man and has his own style of play.

"Mind you, he has similar attributes to McGrath and he does remind me of Paul to a certain extent because he is so quick and athletic.

"Paul was just a natural footballer - a bit like Rio. Even I'm at it now, classing the lad alongside them," laughed Robson.

"All I am saying is that he has a chance of becoming a player like them, but he has a long way to go before he can be talked about in the same bracket."

But the fact that Robson beat off competition from Birmingham City, Charlton Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur proves just how fIted Davies is.

For a player who has only played six Championship games, £3 m is a considerable outlay by Albion, but Robson is adamant that he could easily recoup that money if Davies moved again.

Davies is the latest embryonic talent to arrive at the Hawthorns following in the footsteps of Darren Carter, Richard Chaplow, Robert Earnshaw and Nathan Ellington.

Robson hopes that Albion can progress at the same speed as Davies to ensure he can fulfil all his ambitions at Albion.

"Three million pounds isn't cheap for a player nowadays, but that is the confidence we have in him," continued Robson.

"He is quick, strong, athletic and alert, all the things that you look for in a central defender. We hope we can improve all our young players, as a group and individuals, so they are worth £6 million in the future.

"He has developed quickly with Luton and this move is another stepping stone for him. Hopefully, he will prove us right and go on to be a really top player and the club will be moving in the right direction.

"I want to improve him so he can become an international player. I want a team of international players at Albion, as that means I have a good team."

Davies is keen to repay the £3 million leap of faith.

The 20-year-old defender - signed with only minutes to go before the transfer window slammed shut - was released as a 15-year-old by Wimbledon but overcame the setback at Luton. Now he is hungry for the next step in his career.

He said: "I just want to crack on now. The move did come as a bit of a shock as I did not find out that anyone had met Luton's asking price until last Wednesday afternoon. It all happened a bit quickly but I am glad it went through.

"Hopefully I can now go on and repay that faith in me."

Davies prospered under Luton boss Mike Newell and says it was the advice he received from the Kenilworth Road boss that convinced him the move to Albion was the right one.

"It was a bit emotional to leave Luton but I have to better myself and I know the lads will do well without me. He [Newell] told me that I had a good chance of playing at West Brom. Hopefully I can do that and stay in the team and make a name for myself."

So highly is Davies rated by Albion boss Bryan Robson that he could step straight into the side to face Wigan at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Davies said: "From what the manager has told me I have a good chance of being in the squad against Wigan. So what I have to do is train hard and try to get in there.

"To be able to play Premiership football straightaway is a dream.

"I never even expected to be playing for Luton last year. But Emerson Boyce left for Crystal Palace and I thought I had to take my chance and I stayed in the side for the whole year. Now I am looking forward to playing in the Premiership.

"It is a big test but everyone wants that kind of test as it can only make you a better player.

"If you can do well against the players you will come up against in the Premiership it will give your confidence a big boost."

Robson, in considering whether Davies plays against Wigan, needs to shore up a leaky defence that has shipped seven goals in the last two Premiership outings.

Davies remains a huge Manchester United fan and the prospect of working with Robson - one of his idols - played a big part in tempting him away from Luton.

However, the bubbly Londoner isn't your typical glory-hunting Manchester United fan from London. His father, Eugene, moved to England 32 years ago from Sierra Leone but was already a convert to United's cause because of the BBC.

He spent many hours listening to the BBC's World Service and this happened to coincide with England's glory years.

Davies snr said: "I used to hear so many good things about Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles that I just had to support them when I followed my father to England.

"He was an accountant but my real interest was football, and it is the same for Curtis too."

The 20-year-old has a healthy obsession with football and finds himself compared to Paul McGrath but was given the monicker 'Big Dave' at Luton in reference to his imposing presence. That is exactly the same nickname afforded to Darren Moore. However, after meeting the affable Moore at Albion's training ground, Davies says there is room for only one 'Big Dave' in the dressing-room.

"I don't have a nickname any longer, as I met Darren this morning and shook his hand - he nearly broke it."