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Stephens aims to make it second time lucky
Dale Stephens has missed out on the Premier League once.
But he hopes to make it second time lucky after signing for Albion from Charlton.
The midfield box-to-box replacement for the injured Andrew Crofts almost joined Aston Villa two summers ago.
Stephens, 24, revealed to The Argus: "It was close but yet so far away. I think the clubs struggled to agree a fee for me and it never happened.
"I look forward and I looked at the positives and I am here now, so there’s a good thing that has come out of it.
"Every player wants to play in the Premier League and when you get quite close to getting that opportunity and when it’s taken away from you it can hit some players hard.
"It took me a month or so, a couple of months, to get over what had happened but I looked at it the right way and took the positives out of the situation.
"I am very lucky to be here. They have got a good squad here, capable of reaching the play-offs easily, and that’s what we are looking to do."
Stephens has joined Albion until June 2017 in a deal which could rise to £700,000. That looks good value for a player so close to performing in the top flight.
Crofts managed that with Norwich before rejoining Albion. the Welsh international is out until next season with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament sustained in the home win against Birmingham.
Stephens admits Crofts will be hard to replace. "I know he’s a top, top player, so it will be big boots to fill," he said.
"But I am confident in doing that. Hopefully I can push this team towards where we want to be."
Stephens has traded a relegation dogfight with Charlton for Albion’s play-off challenge.
He made the last of his 90 appearances for the South Londoners in Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Doncaster, who visit The Amex next Saturday.
Stephens has scored four goals this season, including, like Crofts, a winner at Birmingham.
He said: "Hopefully in this team I can get some more goals. I want to be as dynamic as I can, try to get around the pitch as much as possible and chip in with a few. I know I have got defensive responsibilities as well."
A few familiar faces should assist the settling in process for the Lancastrian.
Stephens knows Will Buckley from their time together at Rochdale, where he had a spell on loan from Oldham, as well as Jon Obika and Nathan Jones from Charlton.
"I know his (Jones) philosophies on football and I know he likes to play the right way, so he was a major influence on me signing here," Stephens said.
"I had enough time to think about it before taking the decision to sign. It’s a top club, it’s going places and I want to be part of that."
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