West Bromwich Albion's rejuvenated strike force have earned most of the plaudits in the their defiant bid to beat the drop.

But Albion manager Bryan Robson is just as keen to give praise to his side's defensive work as the base on which his side have rebuilt their attacking confidence.

A fundamental part of a defence that has conceded only two goals in five matches has been left-back Paul Robinson. The former Watford full-back was yesterday rewarded with a new twoyear contract since becoming a regular member of Robson's team in the post-Christmas shake-up.

"I think at the start of the season," Robson said, "there were a few of them in the team who knew they were good enough to get them promoted but probably didn't really have the confidence to think they could play at this level .

"With someone like Russell Hoult, I've not been surprised by his recent form as he has been a top keeper over the past four years for this club. When he made his mistake in the defeat at Norwich I told him that was his last one and he has since responded really well.

"But when I took over there were a few who did not have much confidence and maybe had question marks against themselves. Since the turn of the year a lot of them have maybe thought 'this isn't as hard as I thought it was going to be' so they've now got the confidence and belief that they can not only be in the Premiership but can compete in it. And Paul Robinson is a classic example of that.

"He came in against Manchester City just after Christmas for his first game after being out for a while and was outstanding in a really good defensive display from the entire team and he's just gone on from there.

"He was my man of the match in the win over Everton on Sunday. I thought he had an absolutely terrific game. The energy levels and commitment he showed were outstanding. But when we do the fitness tests he is always right up there at the top so that should have come as no surprise.

"And that's why I was so keen to stress to the chairman that we get him signed up on a new contract.

"Like I showed by giving Neil Clement a new five-year contract, I don't want to lose good players coming out of contract who I think can do a job at this club over the next few years. I want to keep them and add to them."

Robinson's existing contract was not due to end until June but, with the club already holding a year's option on him, he was never expected to pitch up anywhere else next season.

"It was never in any doubt that I would sign," Robinson said. "My family are now settled here and having such a fantastic bunch of lads here helped me make my decision. We now have a great team spirit and I would not have wanted to leave that."

Although aware that 26-year-old Robinson had played Premiership football with Watford four seasons ago, Robson says that the £300,000 signing from the Hertfordshire club was something of a mystery man to him when he took over from Gary Megson five months ago.

He said: "I'd seen Paul play a couple of times at Watford but when I arrived here I had more or less made up my mind that Neil Clement would be my left-back. But once I'd seen everyone play, I decided Clement would do well at centre-half and I've been really pleased with the way Paul Robinson has done at left-back.

"I put him on in front of Clement in one of my first games, against Manchester United, because I thought he could play in midfield and protect him but when I spoke to Robbo on the Monday he was honest with me. He told me he'd do anything for me at left-back but he couldn't play in midfield.

"All I'd wanted from the players was a bit of honesty. And it made a real quick decision for me because, having found out he was so uncomfortable in midfield, I have since been able to view him solely as a left-back."