Gaetan Bong will make sure he keeps smiling if he misses out on a starting place at West Bromwich Albion.

Even if it means putting on a bit of an act should Markus Suttner be picked ahead of him.

Bong and Suttner are waiting to hear who gets the nod at the Hawthorns on Saturday as Albion chase a third away win of the campaign.

Both have had their chances of late, both have their own particular qualities and both seem to have their own niche of support among the Seagulls fanbase.

The Argus:

Gaetan Bong in the thick of it

Each have started five of Albion’s last ten league and cup games and, while many positions seem clearcut, left-back has been the one which gets most people guessing when they try to predict Chris Hughton’s strongest starting XI.

Bong has kept smiling when he has been the one to miss out.

Most memorably, there were pictures of him offering a cheery presence at Huddersfield after losing his place to Suttner for the potential six-pointer in December.

He admits it is all a bit of an act – and an act he feels is essential in maintaining squad spirit and chasing the greater goal of securing Premier League status.

The ex-Wigan and Olympiacos man told The Argus: “We are two left-backs with totally different styles but everyone tries to give his best when the gaffer decides who is going to play.

“Sometimes, if we have two or three games, I need to rest a little bit to be ready for the next one.

“It just depends how the gaffer feels.

“He knows I am always ready to play.

“He knows I always give 100% and, when I can’t, he just tries to preserve me, to not get injured.

“He knows that when he rests me, I will always be positive.

“I’m there for me, my family and the team.

“If I’m starting or not, I’m there to bring something for the team and the boys know that.

“Even if I’m not playing and I’m just in the changing room, I bring my spirit.

“I think that is important. That’s the experience I have.

“When you are a young team like us and it’s the first season at this level, we have to have this spirit.”

Bong knows keeping that smile and positive outlook is not easy when a player is left out. But he believes it can be crucial.

He said: “It’s not a natural reaction for me either.

“I try to speak with the boys and say, ‘It’s not easy but, even if you aren’t in the XI, you are part of this team’.

“It’s harder to keep quiet and bring this spirit than it is to get upset and say something bad or bring bad feeling.

“If I’m disappointed, I make sure I’m disappointed on my own.

“Then I come back just smiling and helping everyone.”

That outlook will be needed with no obvious pattern emerging as to which left-back is Hughton’s first choice.

Suttner was certainly the main man when he played the first six league games after his summer move from Ingolstadt before making way at Arsenal.

Bong came in for his longest run of starts with five, including the away wins over West Ham and Swansea.

Since then neither left-back has had more than two successive starts.

The situation is similar to the end of last season when Bong and on-loan Sebastien Pocognoli shared left-back duties.

But Albion fans who recall the Withdean era and earlier Amex years will see the irony of the current situation of having two left-backs of their own in whom the manager can trust.

It is undreamed of riches compared to how things used to be.

Left-back was a problem position of sorts for years for Albion, certainly in terms of getting a permanent occupant.

Matt Richards (in three stints), Gary Borrowdale, Marcos Painter, ex West Brom man Joe Mattock, Wayne Bridge, Stephen Ward and Joe Bennett all did the job on loan, although Painter later signed a permanent deal.

Bong came in during the summer of 2015 but missed five months of his first season through injury, during which time Liam Rosenior, Inigo Calderon and short-term signing Liam Ridgwell came in.

Pocognoli and Rosenior played at left-back when Bong was absent during the second half of last season.

Now Albion have a choice to make on a weekly basis – and with no need of help from the loan market.

While Bong offers greater athleticism, Suttner is very tidy on the ball and getting used to the Premier League.

Bong said: “We are all in the same boat and we all want the same goal.

“That is why we have to be focused.”

And smiling through – even when they don’t feel like it.