West Brom winger Oliver Burke is ready for a long-awaited first Premier League start for the Baggies after finally recovering from hamstring trouble.
And he will now be a serious option for under-pressure boss Tony Pulis when the Baggies host Chelsea on Saturday week.
“It’s been a rollercoaster start to my Albion career so far,” he told BBC WM.
“Being injured is really frustrating. But I’m chuffed to bits to get so many minutes under my belt and I was happy to score as well. A cheeky little ‘meg’ on the keeper.”
Burke, who had previously been limited to two brief substitute appearances and an hour’s game time for the Under-21s, is needed to boost an ailing Albion side.
Pulis’s men have scored just seven goals and picked up four points in their last nine league games to slip to 16th in the table – just one point clear of the relegation places.
Chelsea game should be ‘very tasty’
The game against fourth-placed Chelsea will be followed by a daunting trip to Tottenham, who are currently in third place.
“It should be very tasty,” said Burke. “But we’ve had a lot of difficult games. We’ll have to see how it goes. I’m just looking forward to getting back in after the international break.
“I want to help the boys out, be a different outlet and give some pace up there. I feel fit and fresh and ready to go. The hamstring is fine.”
Scotland international Burke will not be needed by his country over the next week which will give him some much-needed recovery time after the EFL Trophy buffeting he took at the Ricoh Arena from Coventry’s fired-up youngsters.
“There were lots of challenges coming in on me,” he admitted. “I’m full of cuts and bruises and my head’s a bit lumped out.
“But that’s part of football. I knew it was going to come. When you’re that sort of player, anybody’s going to try to take you out when you’re running at people
“You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself out and wait for the next one. But when there’s no cards whatsoever, they kind of get away with it.”
Hawthorns return for owner Lai
Burke’s anticipated recall could be in the presence of Albion’s Chinese owner Guochuan Lai, who is scheduled to be at the game on 18 November.
Lai’s first trip to The Hawthorns since the opening day of the season was pre-arranged, but the presence of the man who paid £200m to take an 88% stake in the club during the summer of 2016 may increase the pressure on head coach Pulis.
Albion have not won in the Premier League since 19 August – and last Saturday’s defeat at Huddersfield was their third in a row.
Home fans were visibly upset by the manner of the loss and the number of disillusioned phone-in callers to BBC WM this week suggests the relationship between fans and Pulis may be at its lowest point since he was appointed on 1 January 2015.
Pulis, who is the seventh longest-serving top flight boss, guided the Baggies to safety in his first season, then did it again in 2015-16, finishing 14th, six points clear of danger.
But, although rising to a finishing position of 10th last season, Albion were already in decline by the end of the campaign, picking up just two points from their final nine games.
They have now won just two of their last 20 Premier League matches.
And Pulis himself told BBC WM after last weekend’s loss in Yorkshire: “I’m not stupid enough to think you can get away with losing every week”.
Oliver Burke was talking to BBC WM’s West Bromwich Albion reporter Rob Gurney