Slow start disappoints Hodgson
The Baggies, who visit Sunderland on Saturday, were beaten in their opening three games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Stoke. They remain in the bottom three despite picking up four points from the last three games but have struggled to regain last season's momentum of 20 points from the final 12 matches. Hodgson is adamant the quality of the squad has improved after a cluster of summer signings and will prove good enough to stay up. The former Liverpool boss said: "The first three games are the real bugbear for us because we got no points. "We are going to be playing catch-up for a considerable period of time. "It will take a while to get back into a position in the table we would be more comfortable with. "If we had taken three points from the first three games and were sitting on seven now, I'm sure the confidence would be higher and people would be feeling less anxious when they go out to play. "This is part of being a member of a Premier League team. It's a lot of pressure at all times and that pressure hardly ever leaves you because there is always something to play for. "In the last three games, two of them away from home, we've taken four points which is a little bit more acceptable. "Those four points are not good enough to claw back the loss of the nine points in the first three games. "But I'm quite confident if the team can continue working hard, they won't let myself or the club down and we will get the necessary points." Hodgson added: "We haven't picked up the momentum of last season, or hit the rhythm I would like. "But I am still seeing signs that we are relatively solid and I believe the solidity of the team and the quality of the players we have will see us through in the end. "I am much more confident this year that the depth and quality of our squad has been improved. "I'd like to think we are every bit as good, if not better regarding the first eleven because the players who have come into the team are as good, if not better than the ones playing last season." One of those summer signings was Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley and the former Ipswich player impressed when making the first Premier League appearance of his career against Fulham last weekend. McAuley was laid low by a long-term virus after his move from Portman Road but is now back to full fitness. Hodgson said: "I didn't know it was his first Premier League appearance. Because he has had so many games for Northern Ireland, I presumed he had had some sort of experience before. "I was very pleased with his performance against Fulham and I thought he gelled very well with Jonas Olsson. "It's taken Gareth a bit of time to find his feet because he was laid low by that terrible virus but now that has been sorted out he has got stronger and stronger. "Now he's the player that I thought I was signing. I was very impressed with him towards the end of last year playing for Northern Ireland and when I went to watch him playing for Ipswich."