Club News

Gera eager for Cottage comeback

Midfielder fit and hoping to convince Clarke to start him against old club

ZOLTAN Gera is relishing a return to Fulham on Saturday (ko 3pm) – and hopes he has done enough to convince Steve Clarke to start him against his former club.

The Baggies head to London with the midfielder eager to break back into the team after being an unused substitute in the two league games since his opening-day wonder strike in the 3-0 win over Liverpool.

And Gera insists he is fully fit for the challenge at Craven Cottage, where he spent three successful seasons, after overcoming an Achilles niggle while on international duty with Hungary.

“I had a little problem with the Achilles, which is why I came off in the first international game after 45 minutes,” he said.

“The game was over as it was 2-0 at half-time so it was better to come off and prepare for the next game.

“I’m okay now because I had good treatment, and there is no problem.

“I played almost a full game on Tuesday and I felt good.

“There is no issue and the plan is to train as normal building up to the weekend.

“I’m looking forward to playing against Fulham and seeing my old friends because I had a good three years there.

“When the fixtures came out the first games I looked for were the ones against Fulham.

“I was disappointed I couldn’t play against them last season.

“I have very good memories from Fulham and I was happy there.

“It is a similar club to West Brom. It is friendly and there are very, very good people around the club.”

Gera insists he is happy to remain patient for his first-team chances as he gets back up to full speed after spending the majority of last season on the sidelines with cruciate knee damage.

And he was delighted to get two more caps for his country under his belt over the last week – the first of which made him Albion’s record international appearance maker – surpassing Stuart Williams’ 33 for Wales.

“I came back from a long injury,” he added.

“I had the chance to play in the first game against Liverpool and scored.

“I didn’t play in the next two league games but I don’t need to rush and I want to be patient.

“Of course, players always want to play, and I’m no different.

“I want to play as much as I can, as long as I can.

“I just want to improve in training and show to the head coach there is no problem if I need to play.

“The two international games were good for me and I feel fitter and stronger than when I played in the first game of the season.

“I’m just looking forward to playing again for Albion.

“I’ve played 75 times for Hungary in total now and hopefully I can carry on and get more.

“I’m very proud to be top of the Baggies list – it is a good achievement.”

Gera was named the Cottagers’ 2009/10 Player of the Season, in a campaign where they reached the Europa League final.

He is now hoping those efforts are remembered by the home fans on Saturday as he prepares to face an 11th-placed Fulham side in transition under Martin Jol.

“When you play against your old club you want a good reputation,” said the 33-year-old ace, who rejoined the Baggies from the Cottagers in summer 2011.

“I’m sure they will remember the good things about me and I’m not worried about it.

“I’m looking forward to it.

“In the two years since I left the squad has changed a lot.

“The new manager has brought in new players as normal.

“They started well with a 5-0 win over Norwich and then they lost to Manchester United and West Ham away.

“But they still have good players and I think they will finish in a similar position as recent seasons.”