08:30 07 Aug 2019
West Bromwich Albion youngster Nathan Ferguson says he is happy to “play tough” and continue maturing under new manager Slaven Bilic.
The 18-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance on his Baggies debut in Saturday’s 2-1 opening-day victory at Nottingham Forest.
Ferguson is a centre-half by trade but was used at right-back by Bilic in the new boss’s first competitive game in charge.
The youngster said: “I feel like I’ve matured, especially with the new gaffer coming in and giving me chances in pre-season to prove myself.
“I’m just happy to be given the chance and will keep working hard.”
When asked what Bilic wanted to see from him, Ferguson replied: “Just to be yourself and play tough, that’s what he told me.
“He said ‘It’s going to be hard and you’ll have to work for it’ and I said ‘OK’.
“He’s a great manager. I’m usually a centre-back so he’s been able to morph me into a right-back.
“He’s seen qualities in me that I’m happy he’s seen and I’ve been able to show them off such as my speed and running with the ball.
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“He put me there after training and worked on different offence and defensive qualities.”
The teenager said he was was pleased to help his side get their Championship campaign off to a positive start.
“I don’t look into that (the performance) really,” Ferguson added. “I’m just happy we got the three points, especially on a debut it’s good to get three points for the lads.
“We definitely deserved to win. We worked hard, pre-season has been tough but it’s for moments like this, isn’t it? Winning games and getting three points.
“It was great. The fans that travelled – ‘thank you’. It was a great experience.”