West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Bruce has provided an update on the fitness of long-term absentees Kean Bryan and Kenneth Zohore as the Baggies approach the conclusion of their campaign.
Speaking to the media ahead of today’s Championship clash against Stoke City at The Hawthorns, the Albion boss revealed that the duo are working hard to be fit in time for pre-season training in the summer, but has effectively ruled out any hope of either player featuring for the remainder of 2021/22.
Bryan required knee surgery after damaging his ACL in November, having played just 49 minutes of league action across three appearances after joining the West Midlands club on a free transfer from Sheffield United.
On the 25-year-old defender, the Albion manager said: “That’s a hard thing to deal with, especially when you’re a new player at a club and you do your ACL.
“I spoke to him the other day – his knee resembles a knee again, which three months ago it didn’t. He’s working extremely hard. It’s a big summer for him, too. He’s on track.
“I think it’s a crucial time, pre-season. Every club have had a struggle with it, because of the pandemic.”
As for Zohore, the striker has been limited to just two Championship appearances this term, featuring seven times in Premier League 2 for the under-23s.
A nightmare season was made even worse when he picked up a thigh injury and then got injured again upon returning to training.
Bruce stated of the Dane: “It was a bad couple of days for us, because unfortunately he broke down. It’s a reset for him, as well. He got a thigh injury, a muscle injury, and he’d been six weeks out. He got re-injured. It was horrible. He’d only trained for 20 minutes and then he broke down again. It’s a reset for him. I would think that’s his season.”
Having been in the job for just two months, the 61-year-old is still yet to be able to fully witness the capabilities of both Zohore and Bryan, a development which will no doubt leave the West Brom boss feeling gutted.
The West Midlands outfit have endured a tricky campaign after being relegated from the Premier League last term, with Bruce’s team sat in 11th going into Saturday’s meeting with the Potters.
With just six games to go and the play-offs seemingly beyond Albion this year, Baggies supporters will be keen to see the back end of a difficult season. They will also be keen to have as many players as possible available for the new campaign, as will Bruce, who might then be able to make a proper assessment of the squad at his disposal.
It’s vital that Bryan and Zohore ensure that they are fit in time for pre-season in order to make an impression on the manager in order to reignite their respective West Brom careers. Otherwise they may have to seek moves elsewhere.