John Hartson earned a yellow card for over-celebrating the goal that gave West Bromwich Albion victory against Derby County last week - butfor Tony Mowbray, the Albion manager, the revelry was appropriate behaviour.

Mowbray is aware that only two Albion players — Darren Carter and Jared Hodgkiss — can be described as "local" and he cites Hartson's celebration as an example of how the team can create an affinity with the supporters.

As the manager of Hibernian, Mowbray found that most of his players were from Edinburgh and, inevitably, there was a deep relationship between the squad and the fans.

Mowbray wants the same at The Hawthorns and hopes that more celebrations a la Hartson will help foster a feeling of kinship.

"I want to try to get an affinity between the players and supporters because we do have a lot of players who don't have West Midlands backgrounds," Mowbray said.

"That is something that is different here compared to my last club. At Hibs, I had a core of players, maybe a dozen, all from Edinburgh who had a real affinity with the fans.

"I think it is important that the players have a passion for their football club so they care about it — and the supporters.

"I want that to emanate from the players and for the supporters to have a feel for them, too.

"Let's hope John's performance on Saturday, for example, helps to create that. He got off to a great start by scoring twice on his debut but he's gone through a period where he's been out of the team.

"Be it John or whoever, I want them to have a passion for the football club and that's got to emanate from their performances.

"The supporters will then see the players are giving them everything they've got. We all understand we can't win every week but supporters will forgive a lot of things if they can see a team showing effort and desire."

And, while Hartson's goal was tangible evidence that he still has much to offer Albion, Mowbray has known for a few weeks now that here was a player with all the right mental attributes to bounce back to form.

"John is a very, very likeable man," Mowbray said. "He's somebody I've enjoyed working with over this period but it's been a long period of trying to get John into the condition to do what he's best at.

"I've had a good few conversations with John and I genuinely feel he's on side with us and wants to do well for us. He's worked extraordinarily hard over the last three weeks. He's pushed himself to the brink.

"We enjoyed the rewards of that work on Saturday. Even on Friday afternoon he was working like a Trojan to keep going. Normally on Friday afternoon, even Friday morning, you do very little because it's the day before a game.

"Yet John was working away, sweating bucketfuls for the cause — and he got his rewards against Derby."

Not that Hartson is guaranteed a place in the starting line-up for Albion's match away to Barnsley on Sunday.

Mowbray has strength in depth up front and it is hard to see how Kevin Phillips can be dropped, after the former Aston Villa striker played so well against Derby.

However, Hartson is being made available to the press for pre-match interviews today and that is often a sign that a particular player will be in the starting line-up.

"I think the process continues for John," Mowbray said. "It's about getting the psychological, physical and mental balance right.

"As John rightly tells me, he's never going to be 13.5 stone, or Joe [Diomansy] Kamara tearing about the pitch.

"I understand that but, psychologically, I just want him to feel fit and feel powerful. I don't want him to feel heavy and sluggish so he needs to continue the work.

"I think doing that will add longevity to his career. It will keep him going and we'll both see the benefits.

"I know from experience that John is not someone you want to play against if you're a centre-half.  If you see his name on the teamsheet, you know you're going to have a tough day."