Friday 28 October 2016

Darren Fletcher expecting Saido Berahino to make an impression over the run-in

Published 12/02/2016 | 22:41

West Brom captain Darren Fletcher expects Saido Berahino to make a run-in impact
West Brom captain Darren Fletcher expects Saido Berahino to make a run-in impact

West Brom captain Darren Fletcher is confident Saido Berahino will rediscover his goalscoring touch in the Barclays Premier League.

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Fletcher thinks the young striker will be an important player in the remaining 13 matches as Albion look to keep their heads above water in the battle to avoid relegation.

The club turned down bids for Berahino during the January transfer window because they felt his goals could keep them up - although the 22-year-old has not started a Premier League game since the end of October - and Fletcher agrees.

"He'll be great and score goals for us in the run-in, there's no doubt about that," said the Scotland international. " That's why he's here.

"He wants to score goals and he is hungry to score is goals. He will be (a big player for us) yes."

Berahino's future has been the subject of speculation all season and it has taken its toll, both on and off the field.

He threatened to go on strike after West Brom rejected numerous bids for him from Tottenham during the opening month of the season and, according to Baggies boss Tony Pulis, he has not been fit all season.

Pulis said last week that Berahino has had "three or four months of doing what he shouldn't have been doing, in lots of respects" before revealing that the academy product has been having one-on-one training sessions with him in a bid to regain his fitness and sharpness.

Despite the trials and tribulations this season Fletcher insists his team-mate's effort can not be questioned and Berahino remains a popular character at The Hawthorns.

"You can see his application. He's knuckling down, he's a great lad, he's well-liked in the dressing room and long may it continue," said Fletcher. "He was delighted we went through (in the FA Cup on Wednesday night)."

Berahino has not scored a league goal since netting in a 1-0 home win against Sunderland on October 17.

He has scored three goals in the FA Cup in 2016 and should have added to his tally in the competition against Peterborough in midweek but headed the ball wide from six yards out in the final minute of extra time, before scoring his penalty in the ensuing shoot-out.

"The lads have told him he needs to work on his heading," said Fletcher.

"He spoke about how disappointed he was with it. But I thought his performance all round was fantastic. He deserved a goal."

Pulis has said that Berahino will be involved in all of West Brom's remaining Premier League matches, although the striker looks set to start on the bench again at Everton on Saturday.

"Saido's nowhere near as fit or sharp as we want him, it's going to take a bit of time but hopefully we can get him to good level," said Pulis.

"As I've said before, we've played more than half a season without our best player. To get him fit straight away immediately in the first 10 days is ridiculous - if people think that's going to happen."

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