CHRIS Brunt is targeting a return to top-flight action in Monday's home clash with Southampton (ko 8pm) after making a successful injury comeback in yesterday's Barclays Under-21 Premier League 3-3 draw with Reading.
The Baggies skipper got 61 minutes under his belt, as planned, after spending a month on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
And now he is hoping to take on the Saints, with fond memories of scoring the dramatic 84th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw that clinched promotion for Albion the last time the two sides met at The Hawthorns in April 2008.
“Yesterday was what I needed, said Brunt.
“It’s been a while and it’s been pretty stop-start this season altogether, right through from pre-season.
“So it was nice to get back out onto the pitch.
“I had a few days training last week, which felt good, but it’s never the same as game time.
“To get a bit of a run-out yesterday was decent.
“That’s probably the first time I’ve played with a lot of the young lads and it was nice to see that side of it as well."
He added: “Everything is fine with the hamstring, as I expected.
“It was always going to be okay.
“Sixty minutes was doctor’s orders.
“I probably could have done a little bit more but the doc said ‘no’.
“The last couple of times I’ve come back and broken down so it is important not to rush back this time.
“That’s always been the plan since I suffered the injury against Villa.
“Initially they looked at the Man City game but there was no point in risking it and playing a couple of games only to miss another few.
“Fingers crossed, this time everything will be okay."
Billy Jones and Jerome Thomas (both knee) also made injury comebacks in yesterday's encounter with the Royals, playing 72 and 90 minutes respectively.
And the duo could further increase Steve Clarke's options as he prepares his eighth-placed side to entertain Nigel Adkins' 19th-placed strugglers.
“Hopefully I’ll be fit enough to face Southampton,” said Brunt.
“I’ll have to get another few days training to be involved in some shape or form.
“It’s down to the gaffer and what he thinks from this week’s training.
“But it would be nice to get involved again.
“Billy and Jerome got minutes in as well so hopefully we’ll be more or less back to full strength for the Southampton game."
He added: "It has been frustrating for me - but that’s football.
“Sometimes things like that happen and someone else has got to step in.
“That’s why we have a squad.
“It’s a squad game these days and I know we’ve lost the last two games, but I’ve missed the majority of the season so far, Billy’s missed a few games and Reidy has, and we’re doing okay without three pretty regular players from last season.
“It shows how much stronger we are."