DOUGIE Freedman has revealed he passed up on a chance to “bend” the loan rules and extend Craig Dawson’s stay at the Reebok.

The Wanderers boss had the opportunity of renewing the West Brom defender’s deal, thus enabling him to feature in the final two games of the season against Cardiff City and Blackpool and the first leg of any potential play-off.

But Dawson will now go back as scheduled to the Hawthorns with Freedman’s conscience clear, presenting a timely opportunity for fit-again centre-backs David Wheater and Matt Mills to stake their claim.

“There was a two-week window that we could have done something,” the manager said. “But that’s not the right thing to do. That’s bending the rules.

“I don’t like excuses, I don’t like complaining about referees and I don’t bend rules. I play fair and stick to what we said.

“I have got David Wheater who must have sore knuckles because he’s been banging on my door every day. I have also got Matt Mills not so much knocking as tapping it, so there are definitely players waiting to get into that position.”

Freedman has stuck to his guns over Dawson’s loan – maintaining that he would not enter into discussions about a permanent move despite his huge impact at Wanderers over the last two months.

The ex-Radcliffe Borough man is well down the pecking order in the Midlands but still very highly rated by Albion boss Steve Clarke.

Should the Whites achieve their ultimate aim of a play-off spot and a return to the Premier League, then many fans hope the Glaswegian’s stance will soften.

But for now, Freedman is happy to stick to the arrangement made with his fellow Scot.

“When I go into agreements, I don’t go in with the intention of pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes,” he said. “There were five or six clubs who wanted to take Craig on loan and I told Steve Clarke that if he sent him to us that I would develop him as a young man and as a player, and in that order.

“I think he is maturing, he is getting game time, and I will hand him back to West Brom better for the experience, I guarantee.

“We’re on track to do that. What will happen in the future, we’ll have to wait and see.”