Club News

Irvine backs Anichebe as he looks to counter Pelle

Baggies boss pleased with striker's input and confident goals will come for him

ALAN Irvine is confident the goals will come for Victor Anichebe this season - as he highlighted the threat his men might face at the other end of the pitch against Southampton on Saturday (ko 3pm).

The Baggies striker turned in an impressive opening-day performance against Sunderland, winning the penalty Saido Berahino levelled from and creating a good second-half chance he was disappointed not to convert.

And Irvine feels he is going to be an important player for Albion this term as he warned his players against the danger of Saints frontman Graziano Pelle.

“I think Vic will score goals,” said the Hawthorns boss.

“I think there is an anxiety. He was so upset about the one where he rolled their lad and pulled it past the post.

“He was in afterwards looking at the clips and thinking how have I done that? 

“But he got himself into that position and I thought he was really good for us at the weekend. 

“I think people are noticing his work-rate and the tireless stuff he is doing for the team, his attitude. 

“I have been really pleased with him in pre-season and I think he is going to be a big player for us, quite literally!”

Irvine first worked with Anichebe as a 16-year-old in their time together at Everton and insists he adds a dimension to the team that other players cannot.

“I think we miss him when he is not there because he has the physical presence that you often need. 

“It is more difficult for someone like Saido or probably someone like Brown [Ideye] to play with their back to goal on their own, having to hold the ball up to bring other people into play.

“You look at Southampton and they have the big boy [Graziano] Pelle who does that job when the ball goes up for them. 

“It sticks and other people can go and play off him, and that is an option which you need to have. 

“It is not something where you want to say we are shelling it up to the centre-forward and he is going to need to keep hold of it.

“But you need to have that threat and the opportunity to be able to do that.

“I think with Victor he has had a really good pre-season as far as I’m concerned and he has been available all the time. 

“He was maybe unfortunate that in two games leading up to the start of the season he missed them through little injuries - but it was important we looked out for him and protected him.

“He plays in a physical way so there is a lot of contact going on, and there is a lot of trying to fight people, so there is more risk of him getting injuries, and maybe not the ones you would get in a player who is running freely and pulls a hamstring or something like that.

“Maybe they are impact injuries or just the strain of holding people off leads to groin and thigh issues.”