Steve Bruce on need for consistency, Stoke City clash & squad fitness

Bruce pre-Stoke

Steve Bruce wants to see his side replicate Wednesday’s eye-catching performance against high-flying AFC Bournemouth in Saturday’s showdown with Stoke City.

Albion host the Potters this weekend in the Black Country, with Steve Bruce’s men intent on securing a third consecutive home victory following triumphs over the Bet Championship’s top two Fulham and the Cherries. 

Alex Mowatt and Andy Carroll goals got the Baggies back to winning ways in midweek following Sunday’s setback at St. Andrew’s.

And Bruce is determined to help his players turn their “inconsistency” around by winning as many of the remaining six matches – starting with Stoke on Saturday.


Bruce said: “Our home form has been very decent, especially the last couple where we have beaten the top two teams.

“But in the same breath, that’s frustrating because we know we’re capable of results like that but that word inconsistency is us.

“After 40 games, the table doesn’t lie. We’ve got the capability of beating anybody in the league, but our inconsistency is the reason why we are where we are.

“The top, top players are top, top players because they have the ability to perform consistently at a high level. 

“We’ve got some very, very good players here. But unfortunately, this week sums us up in terms of where we’re at at the moment. We’ve lost to Birmingham City on Sunday and then we’ve gone and beaten Bournemouth.

“That’s so frustrating for us all. It’s my job to make sure that we stay as close to our best for as long as possible and become a more consistent team.

“The Championship is relentless - it’s a marathon of a competition and it’s tough. It’s incredibly difficult, and if you don’t get to the level you need to be at, you come short.”

Andy Carroll celebrates his goal against Bournemouth
The Baggies beat AFC Bournemouth 2-0 on Wednesday

Saturday’s guests Stoke City have also found consistency hard to find this season.

The Potters are 15th in the division and were beaten at lowly Reading on Tuesday after edging past promotion-chasing Sheffield United last weekend.

Bruce knows the dangers Stoke pose, but believes his side are more than capable of collecting another three points if their performance level is right.

“I went to watch Stoke last week when they beat Sheffield United. They’ve got a very experienced manager in Michael O’Neill.

“They haven’t been great on the road, but really it’s all about us and trying to get to the levels we showed the other night against Bournemouth.

“If we can get to those levels then we’ll take some beating. If we’re off it, then Stoke will be very difficult opponents for us.

“We’ve got to repeat that Bournemouth performance. Yes, it is the third game in six days and maybe I need to have a look at adding in two or three to freshen us up slightly.”

Steve Bruce Boro

Forward Karlan Grant missed Wednesday’s win over AFC Bournemouth with a calf complaint, but Bruce revealed he’s back in contention to feature at The Hawthorns.

“Granty looks ok and he’ll be training with us on Friday ahead of the game. 

“He’s had a bit of a sore calf and he’s also been sick, but thankfully it’s not COVID.

“He’ll be okay as long as his calf is okay.

“Matty Phillips looks as though he’ll be joining in with us in full-time training next week.”

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