And head coach gives Gera and Thorne update
STEVE Clarke has revealed he has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sunderland at The Hawthorns (ko 3pm).
The Baggies’ head coach had been without a number of key players after a succession of injury setbacks during the Christmas period.
But Albion were able to call on nine of their opening-day starting XI for their 2-0 victory at Anfield last week.
Clarke remains without long-term absentees Zoltan Gera and George Thorne, but otherwise has a clean bill of health.
“We have no new injury problems whatsoever,” said The Hawthorns chief.
“It’s good and we’ve obviously had a couple of weeks where we’ve had longer breaks which I think has helped the squad recover.
“It’s nice to have no new injuries to report but we have got a few more training sessions before the weekend so we won’t get carried away.
“At the moment, we have a clean bill of health other than the long-term injuries."
Thorne sustained the first serious injury of his career when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee at Everton last month – while Gera did similar damage to his left knee for the second time in just over a year during Albion’s FA Cup third-round clash at QPR.
Although it is still early days, Clarke says both players are making progress.
“George has had his surgery and as far as I know it went well and he’s on the road to recovery,” said Clarke.
“George is just a young boy and he’s got his whole future in front of him.
“These injuries aren’t nice and they take some time to recover from.
“But when the recovery is complete, it’s normally 100 per cent recovery, so for both of them I don’t think there’ll be an issue.
“Zoltan knows the process, he knows the timescales and he has little targets he will take steps towards over the coming months.
“I think realistically it’s Zoltan’s aim to be ready to join the group in the first week of July for pre-season.
“Obviously Zoltan is a little bit older than George but he’s not that old when you look at the likes of Giggs and Scholes who are still playing.
“Both George and Zoltan need to get their heads down and focus on their rehabilitation so they can be back with the squad as soon as possible.”