Kazenga LuaLua has been told not to waste his chance with Albion.
Boss Gus Poyet has issued the warning after watching LuaLua under- perform for the development team in Monday’s 4-1 defeat by Swansea at The Amex.
It was his first appearance since a jury at Newcastle Crown Court failed to agree a verdict and was discharged after the winger had been accused of affray.
Poyet said: “He trained well after Monday. I would prefer not to make any comment on Monday’s performance by Kazenga but he trained very well on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“He probably knows himself how he performed on Monday, because there was a real change in attitude and belief on Tuesday morning, which is quite strange.
“In football nowadays if you play 90 minutes one day it looks like for the next two days you are dying, you need to rest because your body is exhausted, but Kazenga was not exhausted on Tuesday morning. He trained very, very well, which is very pleasing for the manager.
“He hasn’t been performing well in terms of quality in training, so maybe he was affected by it, this personal situation, and now that apparently it’s gone we’ll see. It’s up to him.”
LuaLua, 22 next Monday and under contract until June 2014, has made only two starts this season and not featured at all in 12 of Albion’s 20 Championship matches.
Poyet said: “There is not one player that has been fantastic in training and fantastic on Saturday afternoon who doesn’t play the next Saturday and if somebody thinks differently he is lying to himself, so it’s up to him.
“I hope that he realises what he has got at the moment, because I don’t think there is a better situation for Kazenga to be in in terms of having the chance to play for this football club, the way we want him to play, having the kind of life he’s got. I hope he doesn’t lose this big opportunity to be part of the future.”
Seats for Albion’s FA Cup third round clash against LuaLua’s former club Newcastle at The Amex on January 5 (12.30) went on sale last night to season ticket holders.
The home game against Hull on February 9 will be screened live on Sky Sports and is now a 5.20pm kick-off.