GAETAN Bong has been praised for his influence in the Albion dressing room, which played a part in earning another contract.

The experienced defender was awarded a one-year extension towards the end of the season, before Chris Hughton was axed and replaced by new head coach Graham Potter.

Bong, preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon, shared left-back duties with Brazilian Bernardo.

Chief executive Paul Barber told The Argus: "We all felt Gaetan had earned another contract. If we go back just a couple of years, finding a high quality left-back was very difficult and is very difficult.

"It is a position we felt we had an opportunity with a player we know who is a fantastic character.

"The supporters will see what Gaetan does on the pitch – solid, consistent, strong, difficult to get around – but what they won't know is off the pitch he is a very high quality person.

"Someone who is very respected and liked throughout the club. Just a decent man, supportive of the young players, particularly the young French-speaking players like (Yves) Bissouma who he has almost become the big brother to.

"Those sort of attributes and qualities are so valuable in a club of our size and for the coaching staff and the players.

"You know whether he plays ten games, 20 games or 38 games, he is going to be fit, reliable, positive, focused, enthusiastic, consistent and decent.

"All of those things, if you were going out to recruit a left-back, you would be looking for.

"He is proven at Premier League level. Why wouldn't you extend the contract?"

Holders Cameroon begin their Africa Cup of Nations challenge in Egypt against Benin on July 2.