GARETH McAuley is on track for a first team return after he reported a satisfactory comeback in a 45-minute run-out for Albion’s PL2 team this week.
The Northern Ireland international and revered Baggies veteran was last seen in his customary position at the heart of Albion’s defence on May 12 in the pulsating title-deciding Hawthorns clash against Chelsea.
McAuley’s thigh injury did not prevent his being selected for Northern Ireland the following month but again was unable to complete a World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.
But the much-loved ‘G-Mac' has fought his way back and proved that his enthusiasm for the Premier League is burning as fiercely as ever at the age of 38.
“It was good to get the old stripes on again after a frustrating time for me,” said Gareth, who played the opening half of the Under-23s' 5-1 victory over Bournemouth this week.
“Everything went well and the leg is now feeling perfectly normal again. It’s been a frustrating period and obviously not ideal having my pre-season interrupted.
“But it feels good again. Now it’s a question of trying to get that place back in the starting XI. The competition doesn’t get any easier with the players we have been signing!”
The Baggies youngsters revelled in having senior pros Gareth and Claudio Yacob in their ranks on Monday and it gave McAuley the chance to prove that his sense of humour has not dimmed during his absence.
He said: “It was an interesting experience - apart from ‘Yac’ I looked round the team and felt old enough to be everyone’s dad!”