By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
James Perch was all smiles after Newcastle United's victory West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and not just because of three points for the Magpies.
The versatile 27-year-old was also delighted to be selected in the heart of the host's midfield at St. James' Park as a replacement for Cheick Tiote, who was beginning a three-game ban for his sending off at Sunderland.
Perch was picked ahead of the likes of Vurnon Anita and Gael Bigirimana, further emphasising his role as one of manager Alan Pardew's key players, having made 14 appearances in all competitions this term across a range of postions in defence and midfield.
And that is a far cry from the player who was very much on the fringe of things on Tyneside during the summer of 2011.
"It was really good," Perch told nufc.co.uk about his place in the starting line-up.
"With Cheick suspended, there isn't another player like him in the team. So the gaffer chose to chuck me in there and I enjoyed it.
"It's a massive boost for me personally and shows that the gaffer has confidence in me. It's pleasing for me that he has got that, as I haven't always had that while I have been at Newcastle."
"Sunday was a massive three points. We were a bit lucky but we will take every bit of luck that comes our way.
"We have a lot of character and courage in the dressing room - we showed that last year - and even when things aren't going our way we can stay strong defensively and have attacking players on the pitch who can win us the game.
"The table is looking better for us now."
Perch had sympathy for the Baggies, however, who left the North-East empty handed following an impressive display which arguably deserved more.
And while their performance was no shock to the former Nottingham Forest man, it just made Newcastle's triumph even sweeter.
"The previous two times they have been up here they beat us and drew 3-3, so they always cause us problems," explained Perch.
"We knew we were going to come up against a good side who are well organised and they played well, so that makes it a great result for us."