And Keen talks up Thomas as he returns to trainingALBION’S fitness concerns remain in the balance ahead of Saturday’s home clash with QPR (ko 3pm) – but the Baggies have been buoyed by the news Chris Brunt’s hamstring injury is not as bad as first feared.
The Hawthorns skipper and Billy Jones (knee) both limped off in the closing stages of the first-half in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Villa and now face a race against time to be fit to face Rangers.
Steven Reid (hamstring) and Liam Ridgewell (calf) both missed the Villa Park encounter and Gareth McAuley picked up a knock late on in the derby – but, at this stage, none of them have been ruled out as the Baggies prepare for their final game before the international break.
“We’re working hard to get everyone fit for Saturday but if not we’ve got the cushion of a couple of weeks for the international break,” said joint-assistant head coach Kevin Keen.
“But we’re trying to get everyone ready for Saturday and we will see what happens.
“Billy took a tackle and he got a knock on his knee, so his knee is a little bit sore and we’re looking at scans and things like that.
“Hopefully he will be fit for Saturday, but if not definitely the following game.
“We’ll keep an eye on Brunty. It’s maybe not as bad as it looked but we’ll just see how we go.
“If we can get as many fit as possible it would give the gaffer a bit of a problem team selection-wise.
“Knowing Steve as I do, he will try to put out what he thinks is the best team for us on Saturday.
“I don’t really think the international break will come into his consideration too much.”
The Baggies have been boosted by the return of Jerome Thomas to training as he continues his comeback from minor knee surgery.
The winger has yet to play a game this season but Keen insists he remains an important player for Albion, although Saturday’s game is likely to come too soon for him.
“Jerome started training this week,” he added.
“Saturday may be a little bit early but depending on what happens this week, he could be in the gaffer’s thoughts.
“He is going to be an important cog in what we’re trying to do.
“He’s an intelligent, bright, clever footballer and we want to try to play good football and create and make things happen.
“So I think he could be important for us.”