Baggies boss Pepe Mel confirmed yesterday the 23-year-old defender would start tomorrow’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace, with first-choice Jonas Olsson unavailable through injury.
Wigan will be hardest hit by the news – with Uwe Rosler expecting to renew his efforts to take the former England Under-21 international on loan.
But any slim hopes Wanderers had of pipping their local rivals to Dawson’s signature have also been dashed, with reports in the Midlands suggesting he could be retained for at least another fortnight to allow Olsson’s hamstring problem to heal.
It comes as an unexpected boost for Dawson, who had been desperate to leave The Hawthorns after failing to gain first-team football under four successive coaches.
Roy Hodgson, Roberto Di Matteo and Steve Clarke have failed to give the former Radcliffe Borough man a regular start but Mel confirmed in his press conference he does see a future for him with the Baggies.
“For me, Dawson is the future of West Brom,” the Spaniard said. “He is a very good centre-back and he wants to play matches. That’s normal, but for now it’s better that he stays here.
“In London we need him to play. Dawson is in the 11 in London. He is ready and he wants to play for me it’s very good.”
Dawson was on the verge of signing for Wigan on transfer deadline day, with Wanderers unable to come up with the funds to mount a deal.
In the end, the Latics failed to get the deal done in time – and 24 hours later, Olsson injured himself against Liverpool, meaning had either club been successful in signing the centre-half, his stay would almost certainly have been a short one.
In that respect Wanderers may have got lucky. Wigan now face a decision on whether to extend the loan of Everton youngster Tyias Browning – something that was in doubt at the start of the week – or look elsewhere when the loan window reopens a week today.
Mel earmarked Dawson to start against Palace for his aerial ability and appears willing to give him a chance to earn a place in his plans with Olsson unavailable.
He was left out of the squad altogether for recent games against Aston Villa and Liverpool but could now have the opportunity he has been craving.
“It is important for me that Dawson has confidence and this match is a good test for him,” he said yesterday.
“Aston Villa is one game, Liverpool is another game and Crystal Palace is another game.
“It’s not the same and I think McAuley and Dawson against Crystal Palace is better for us.
“Crystal Palace have mainly used direct play and McAuley and Dawson are important.”