CHRIS Basham was conspicuous by his absence at Bristol City last weekend.
The midfielder looked as if he was just starting to get comfortable at Bloomfield Road, finally forcing himself into Ian Holloway’s plans after a frustrating first 18 months at the club.
He was the best player on the pitch by a mile at Cardiff last month and has been a regular since Christmas.
But in the 4-1 defeat by West Ham, Basham had the misfortune to be substituted after 34 minutes and he didn’t make the squad at Ashton Gate.
He is hoping to be involved against Hull tomorrow. But even if he misses out, Basham can take comfort from the fact that he remains very much in the manager’s plans.
Holloway said: “Chris did nothing really wrong against West Ham. I could have substituted anyone early in that game because no-one was at their best.
“The bottom line is that I am delighted with how he has done lately.
“We paid about £1m for him, and for that we have got not only a very good player but a fantastic person as well.
“On the pitch, he is a great all-rounder, and that’s why I think our squad is so good at the moment – we’ve got a great blend and a great balance.
“We’ve got some workers, some luxury players, some team players … it is about trying to get the balance right.
“Basham has been outstanding. He has never once moaned, despite having a tricky first year at the club.
“Whether I have left him out unfairly or not, he keeps going and that shows the attitude this club has ... and I’m very proud of it.”
And Holloway is delighted to have an ideal role model at the club for the likes of Basham.
The manager added: “If this place is good enough for the main man, who is undoubtedly Kevin Phillips because he is the envy of everyone else, then that spreads to the others.
“What an example Kev is. He comes off the bench, does his job and never moans about it.
“It is quite refreshing in this day and age, when you see certain so-called superstars behaving so petulantly when they don’t get what they want.
“He is an example to the likes of Chris and it is why we have the dressing room we do – a dressing room I reckon is probably the envy of many others.”