GORAN Popov is delighted to be back at The Hawthorns – and insists last season’s experience leaves him better prepared to earn a place in Steve Clarke’s starting line-up.
The Macedonia international yesterday re-joined Albion on a season-long loan from Dynamo Kiev, with a view to a permanent deal.
The 28-year-old made 12 Barclays Premier League appearances for the Baggies last term after arriving on deadline day in August.
But the former AEK Athens and Red Star Belgrade defender hopes his early arrival this year will help him earn a starting berth ahead of Liam Ridgewell.
“I’m happy to be back at West Brom,” said Popov.
“Last season I was a little bit late for pre-season because I was waiting for the deal to happen.
“This year it’s good for me that I will be here for pre-season.
“This time I will start with the group and I’ll be ready like everybody else.
“It is always good when you have competition.
“Liam is a good player and a good guy.
“I have a lot of respect for him.
“Everybody has to fight for their own place in the team.
“Last year I didn’t play a lot of games and this year I hope to play more.
“I know the league now and I’m not afraid of anyone.”
The 6ft2in defender plans to rekindle his relationship with the club’s supporters, who honoured him with the chant, ‘Popov the Albion man’ to the tune of ‘Popeye the sailor man’, during his first stay at The Hawthorns.
“I like to think the fans and the players inside the dressing room like me,” added Popov.
“I have lots of good friends within the club.
“I’m back and I will be doing my best for this club.
“When I played in Holland the fans had a song for me and it happened again when I came here.
“I was rewarded with a song and I’m very happy about that.
“It’s my second time here now and I hope they get the chance to sing my song for more than 12 games this year.
“I will do my best to do that.”