Veltman: We are still challenging for Europe

Dutchman defiant after defeat to City.

By Nick Szczepanik • 27 April 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Joel Veltman has made 136 appearances for Albion.

Joel Veltman admitted after the home game against Manchester City that he would have liked to take on top teams like Thursday’s visitors with a full-strength side. But he said that Albion can still improve even with such a long injury list.

“It is frustrating but we have had injuries all season, and long-lasting injuries,” the Dutch defender said. “I have never experienced that in my entire career. 

"Of course it's normal that you get injuries, but not all these long-term ones at the same time. So yes, it is frustrating, but we’re still potentially in the top ten although we are eleventh now.

By Paul Hazlewood
Joel Veltman joined Albion from Ajax in 2020.

“We have to be realistic. It has been a tough season and although we only have a small chance of Europe with tough games to go, we will go for it one hundred percent. That’s how we are, so if there is even a small chance we will try for it.

“Of course we wanted to be higher in the league but we have had to adapt in a almost every game to injuries. We are not playing at our best so we can improve and we hope to do that at Bournemouth on Sunday.”

City, Joel conceded, gave the Albion rear-guard a tough examination. “Even without Erling Haaland, they have loads of good midfield players who could play out of our pressure and you have to give them credit for how they played,” he said. 

“But we always look in the mirror first before we look at opponents. We need to do better and we can do better, but they were a level too high and we have to admit that. Sunday is nice challenge to come back stronger.”


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Van Hecke: We will keep pushing

He also had words of encouragement for his fullback partner on Thursday, Valentin Barco, who was making his first Premier League start. 

“He did really well, especially on the ball,” Joel said. “Of course he conceded the third goal, but that is how we play, right? With risk, and we won’t do it differently against Bournemouth on Sunday. 

“He will learn from that, so sometimes it’s good that those kinds of happen. He will grow, he will be better. He’s a proper left back. He has already made his debut for Argentina, which says a lot. He takes everything in from the players and technical staff and at 19, playing in the Premier League is a great achievement for him.”