Graham Potter says the message remains the same on Albion centre-backs.

That is despite the departure on loan of Leo Ostigard to Stoke City.

Albion go into the new season with Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk set to start.

Joel Veltman will too, although it remains to be seen whether that is in a three or as right-back in a four.

Shane Duffy is in today’s matchday squad.

But clearly there is no Ben White these days while Dan Burn is injured.

It was two weeks ago today that Potter said he had no need to go out and sign a centre-back.

That was the day after White’s move to Arsenal was confirmed.

Albion had just won at Luton in the absence of Dunk and Webster.

Duffy and Burn played most of that game in the middle of a back four.

Ostigard went on as a second-half sub for injured Burn and there were moments when he underlined the strong showing of the previous week at Rangers.

Crawley-based Belgian youngster Antef Tsoungui was a late sub for Duffy.

Potter very much played down the need for a new centre-back in his post-match interview.

What has changed since then is the departure, to the surprise of many it seems, of Ostigard.

Potter was asked whether he made his comments at Kenilworth Road expecting the Norwegian to stay.

He replied: “Not necessarily. We knew that Leo is that player who it’s important for him to play regularly, important for him to keep that game rhythm.

“So we didn’t really count necessarily on Leo being with us all the time because there was half an idea, a plan, based on Leo, really, wanting to carry on playing regularly.

“He has had two really good loans, playing regular football, 30 games a season. I think he is at that step.

“I don’t think it would have been the right thing for him to have been the back-up guy, if you like.”

We know what Dunk, Webster and White could do. But was their collective value, as a combination, worth even more than the sum of their individual parts?

Albion had the best defensive record in the bottom half of the table last season.

That is not all down to the back line or the goalkeeper. But the message now is – Follow that!

Potter said: “It’s difficult to repeat because the challenge is you have to keep improving. If you don’t, you go backwards.

“Everyone improves around you and you can’t get anything from what happened last year.

“You don’t get any points, any clean sheets, from what happened in the past. You’ve got to start again.

“Clearly we haven’t got another Ben White. There’s not another £50 million defender around but there will be other players that have different attributes, different qualities, that we have to use.


“That’s the job, that’s the challenge. It’s not for us to spend the £50 million on a replacement.

“We’ve got to look at the collective and think how we can make the whole thing better when we’ve made a decision to sell Ben because I think it was the right thing to do for him and for us.

“We’ve got players that can step in, we’ve got options and that’s the challenge for us. We have to try to aim for that again.”

Burn’s knee injury in that Luton game has reduced options, including for use of the back three system.

But Potter said: “It’s not too bad We were a little concerned but he has seen a specialist, had scans.

“It’s good compared to what we thought it could be, so we’re hopeful and quite confident that if not this side of the international break, then soon after.”