Albion defender Shane Duffy says the squad has noticeable improved during the year he spent on loan at Celtic last season.
Republic of Ireland skipper Duffy came back into the side for his first start since July 2020, and was superb at the heart of the defence in the opening day 2-1 win at Burnley.
He said, “It just shows the character of the squad that the manager has built here. I have been away for a year and the moment I came back I could feel the togetherness around the place.
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“It is different from when I left to when I came back and that showed on Saturday, it showed exactly what the manager is doing here with the squad and building with right people, and the right characters.
“There were some tough moments out there during the first half but we didn’t drop. In the changing room at half time we knew we could win the game and get back into it and that is what the manager is bringing to the squad and it is great to be back and part of it.”
Duffy has been impressed by the younger players in the Albion squad, and says they will only get better under Graham Potter’s guidance.
He added, “You can see everyone has progressed, but they have always had the ability but they have just turned into men.
“I feel like they have understood that having another year working with Graham, they have gone onto new levels and even those who I hadn’t played with before, like Rob Sanchez.
“Players like that are just coming into it now and they belong on this stage. They are only going to get better. It is great for the club and great for me to be a part of it, but I still see a lot of improvement and plenty more to come from the players.”
Meanwhile, Duffy says he is grateful to his head coach for giving him a chance to prove himself once again.
“It felt great to be back in the blue and white again and I’m very grateful to the manager to give me another chance. To top it off with a win, at such a tough place to go, was a great feeling.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted, we wanted to quieten the crowd and play our game but they got on top and scored the goal early and made it quite tough for us. But we went in at half time, regrouped, changed a few things and in the second half we were the better team and deserved the win.
“I came back early at the end of last season and I have just been trying to learn the style of play, exactly what the manager wants from and been trying to listen to as much information as I can.
“We lost Ben White, so I just had to try and come back and work hard, taking it day by day and that is what I have been doing. The team had a great season last season, I was watching them from afar, so it was nice to be back with them.”