Right-back knows it will be difficult to earn back place
BILLY Jones has declared himself available for first-team selection but knows he faces a battle to regain a starting berth in what is an in-form Albion side.
The right-back has been sidelined since late February having sustained a hamstring injury during the 1-1 draw at home to Fulham.
Jones made his return to action for Albion’s Under-21s on Sunday, playing an hour of their 2-1 victory over the Cottagers.
And he is delighted to have got the match fitness under his belt.
“It was good to get a return ticked off,” he said.
“It gives me some peace of mind to be back on the pitch.
“In the eyes of the medical staff and in my own eyes I’m ready to be back involved with the first-team, if selected.
“The plan was always to play an hour on Sunday.
“You can do plenty to recreate game scenarios on the training pitch but there’s nothing like a game to give an injury a good test.
“Playing for the Under-21s is the next best thing to testing it in the first-team and it’s great to get that time on the pitch.
“I’m feeling good now and looking forward to being involved again.”
However, Jones knows regaining a place in Pepe Mel’s starting XI will be a tough ask with Albion currently among the top-ten in-form teams in the Barclays Premier League.
Seven points from four games, including last weekend’s 1-0 victory at Norwich, means the Baggies are five points clear of the drop zone.
And if Albion are on-song on the pitch then Jones is more than happy to bide his time as he looks to add to the 19 league starts he has already managed this season.
“It will be difficult to get my place back,” he said.
“If I’m going to be perfectly honest then I don’t expect the gaffer to change a winning team. That’s very much a rule of football – if the team is winning then you don’t change it.
“Not just from the great win we got at Norwich at the weekend but having collected seven points in four games.
“We’re very much a team in form at the moment.
“It’s horrible when you’re injured, it’s the worst part of the job when you can’t do anything to help the team and make a difference.
“But all you’re hopeful of when you are injured is that the team do well and they’ve done that.
“I’m buzzing even though I’m injured. It’s puts you in a good mood when the lads come back and they’ve got great wins away.”
Steven Reid has stepped in on the right side of Albion's defence for the last five matches and performed to an impressive standard.
He was one of the stand-out names at Carrow Road, with Jones singing his praises.
“Reidy has been solid and consistent – as always,” he added.
“You know what you’re going to get with Reidy, he’s a great pro, he’s been spot on.
“I think that’s why we’ve got such good results recently because, as an XI, we’ve been consistent and working hard for each other.
“I’m really looking forward to a positive end to the season now.”