Saido Berahino and Tony Pulis work together to get striker firing again
Published 05/02/2016 | 22:36
Saido Berahino is having one-on-one sessions with West Brom boss Tony Pulis in a bid to regain his fitness and sharpness.
Berahino's future has been the subject of speculation all season and it has taken its toll, both on and off the field, with the 22-year-old having not started a Barclays Premier League game since the end of October.
Now the transfer window has closed Pulis believes Berahino's state of mind is improved and he wants his star striker back firing as soon as possible, as Albion teeter precariously above relegation trouble.
On Saturday West Brom face Newcastle, who had a £20million-plus bid for Berahino rejected ahead of Monday's transfer deadline.
Pulis insists Berahino is "desperate" to play. He will feature at St James' Park but as a substitute once more, before starting next week's FA Cup replay at Peterborough.
"That's the plan," said Pulis. "He'll be involved in all the remaining Premier League games. Hopefully he'll get some good game time at Newcastle and then he'll definitely get 90 minutes at Peterborough.
"It's all been a massive distraction. It's his mind, a mental thing. But now I think t he biggest worry for Saido is actually getting him fit. I don't think there's any problem with his focus.
"The window has closed and he's still here and he can see a clear path now through to the summer and he has to concentrate on the club.
"He's had three or four months of doing what he shouldn't have been doing, in lots of respects. I've seen what he's been like, I've been on top of that.
"I did a bit of work with him myself the other day after training and I'll be doing little bits with him, little individual work, just to get him back to hopefully a little bit of sharpness. It's sharpness that we need him to have to start and finish games.
"We need to get him fit and up and running but whether we'll get him back to the level we got him last year, I'm not sure.
"He's desperate to play and we are desperate to get him involved but what we don't want to do is push too much the lad and then him get an injury."
West Brom are eight points clear of the third relegation spot, occupied by Saturday's opponents Newcastle.
Pulis believes it is no coincidence their struggles this season have run alongside the Berahino situation.
"I think you've got to accept that this football club has been without one of the best goalscorers in the Premier League all season," said the Baggies boss.
"Take (Jamie) Vardy out of Leicester and see where Leicester would be. So it 's been a big miss for this football club.
"This league is so competitive, I think everyone in the bottom 12 will want to get points as quickly as possible. We've got to make sure he (Berahino) gets his head down, works hard on his fitness and we've got to get him back into the fold as quickly as we can."