ALAN Irvine admits he may have to call on certain players earlier than he would have liked for Albion’s Barclays Premier League opener with Sunderland on Saturday (ko 3pm).
The Hawthorns boss was forced to name young pros Liam O’Neil, Bradley Garmston, Kemar Roofe and Adil Nabi on the bench against FC Porto in the Baggies’ final pre-season game at the weekend.
But he insists he needs more strength in depth against the Black Cats.
And he was delighted to see club-record signing Brown Ideye bag a brace in a 60-minute run-out in yesterday’s Under-21s 3-1 friendly win over Nottingham Forest.
Fellow new recruit Jason Davidson and Gareth McAuley also got an hour under their belts in the behind-closed-doors encounter, while Stephane Sessegnon played 75 minutes and netted from the penalty spot.
“We’re going to have to put people in our squad who haven’t done as much in pre-season as I’d have liked,” said Irvine.
“Brown is ahead of where we feared he might be, which is great news.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to play some part, as will some of the other boys who have missed pre-season.
“It’s important to have that.
“We’ve got some good young players here but we haven’t got too many who are ready to play Premier League football at this particular time.
“They’ve done well over pre-season and been a great help in terms of training because they’ve given us numbers.
“Imagine the size of the group if we hadn’t taken half-a-dozen youngsters to Sacremento with us.
“We’re going to have to rush some people in a little bit earlier than what is ideal.”
He added: “Brown is enthusiastic and seems like a good lad, a good type.
“I only met him at the beginning of the week and he came across really well.
“I’m hoping he’ll prove to be ahead of where we feared or anticipated he would be.”
The Albion chief has also been boosted by seeing James Morrison come through training yesterday as the Scotland international steps up his recovery from a summer knee operation.
But Joleon Lescott remains in the treatment room due to a knee injury.
“James trained yesterday so that’s fantastic and I’m really pleased about that," he said.
“He has come through without any problems.
“He is still obviously behind the other lads - but it is great news.”
One player Irvine has yet to see on the training ground is Cristian Gamboa.
The Costa Rica World Cup star remains abroad as he awaits his visa.
“He has had his meeting, all of which went well, the Baggies boss said.
“That meeting was in Dusseldorf and the paperwork now has to be sent here then sent back again.
“Then he will pick it up and come back again.
“He’s waiting now for that to happen. That’s for his visa. The work permit is no problem.
“It’s like the situation with Brown, but because it’s between Germany and England we’re hoping it happens a whole lot quicker.”