But next nine days will prove pivotal in midfielder's fitness race
THE next nine days will prove decisive in Chris Brunt’s quest to be fit for the Barclays Premier League opener against Liverpool on Saturday week.
That is the verdict of Steve Clarke, who had to do without the key midfielder for the fourth pre-season friendly running at Brunt’s former club Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
The head coach is still very hopeful that the Northern Ireland international will resume training with the rest of the players this week as he manages a niggling calf injury.
He claims the main thing is treading carefully so that Brunt’s spell on the sidelines does not become an extended one.
And Clarke says he will have a better idea by the middle of next week about whether he will be able to call on the man who fired Albion to victory over the Reds with two ice-cool penalties two seasons ago.
“Chris has still got two weeks to get ready,” he said.
“He was at Sheffield on Saturday watching and I’m hopeful he will join in training at some stage this week.
“The problem with Chris was that it was a minor injury he came back with from his holidays.
“He actually picked it up while jogging, trying to get ready for pre-season.
“He didn’t get long enough in the first instance to recover from it and the problem reoccurred.
“Rather than rush him this time, we’ve decided to take the safety-first option.
“If it means another three or four days waiting for him, that’s what we’ll do.
“Whether he’s fit and ready for the start of the season is probably a question and discussion to have three days before the Liverpool game.
“I’ll have a clearer idea then.”