Peter Odemwingie given backing by Roy Hodgson

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The Independent Football

West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie has been given a vote of confidence by head coach Roy Hodgson and told he is "one of the players the counts", despite being axed for the derby with Wolves.

Hodgson left Odemwingie out of the starting line-up on Sunday after being unsure he would recover from an ankle problem and illness in time for the game.

It was another setback for Odemwingie, who felt he was "over-blamed" for Nigeria's failure to qualify for the African Nations Cup.

But Hodgson has reassured Odemwingie of his importance at club level after he came off the bench to score the second goal in a 2-0 win.

Odemwingie said: "The coach (Hodgson) said he wasn't sure from the Monday beforehand that I would play in the Wolves game.

"I came back (from Nigeria) with a little bit of a cough and cold and didn't train for five days.

"I was disappointed because the derby is a game you want to play in because if you do well for the club and for the fans you are the man.

"But I saw the reasons for what he said and he encouraged me. He said I should remove all the doubts about myself.

"He said: 'All I should know is that I am one of the players that counts, that I was good and I shouldn't doubt anything'.

"That was a lift and after my goal all of my team-mates came running to and saying: 'You deserve this'. That really lifted me up."

Odemwingie was stung by the criticism he received over Nigeria's failure to reach the African Nations Cup finals in the new year.

He said: "It's been tough. My country is so big and we didn't qualify for the African Nations Cup and football means so much to them.

"There were critics looking for reasons and I felt a little bit over-blamed for the team's failure to qualify. It was a collective effort.

"I think the personal criticism was more about my relationship with the manager. I think that's what caused this situation.

"I was always appreciated and supported in the national team because I play and give 100% for the team.

"But I had a little dispute with the coach and he has a lot of support in Nigeria so there was a little negative reaction to it."