Saturday 1 October 2016

Tony Pulis praises ever-present Darren Fletcher after return to fitness

Published 14/05/2016 | 10:21

Darren Fletcher joined West Brom from Manchester United in 2015
Darren Fletcher joined West Brom from Manchester United in 2015

West Brom boss Tony Pulis has hailed evergreen skipper Darren Fletcher as the midfielder looks to complete his ever-present record.

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The 32-year-old has started every league game for the Baggies this season ahead of Sunday's finale against Liverpool.

He has made 44 appearances for Scotland and Albion this season, the most since he played 45 times in the 2009-10 season for his country and Manchester United before being struck down with chronic bowel disease ulcerative colitis in 2011.

Fletcher made just 20 appearances for United in two seasons between 2011 and 2013 as he battled the illness and Pulis praised the captain's comeback.

"Fletcher's played 37 (league) games this season, which is fantastic," he said.

"I don't think anyone's mentioned that, for the illness he had for him to come here and play 37 games - and be an absolute dream - is fantastic.

"He's been my player of the year by a country mile on the basis that he had such a time off. He's embraced the club and everything that goes with it, he's been a real ambassador.

"The kid's got a great attitude. For the kids like (Jonathan) Leko it's been wonderful for them to work with him along with the senior pros. The experience the kids get, to play with those sort of players, is fantastic.

"Hopefully we will try and integrate that a little bit more next year if we can."

Should Albion be awarded a penalty against Liverpool, they will be looking to improve on a miserable recent record.

The Baggies have missed four of their last five spot-kicks, with Saido Berahino failing with two in their 1-0 defeat to Watford last month, but Pulis is not reading too much into it.

He added: "S aido practises pens nearly every day and he's missed two consecutively. (Craig Gardner) will do the same, (Salomon) Rondon the same, (James) Morrison the same.

"It's a different pressure when you go out there on a Saturday. Sometimes when players are playing well they can't pick the ball up quick enough to take it."

James McClean (back), James Morrison (hamstring) and Chris Brunt (knee) are all out against the Reds while Stephane Sessegnon is a doubt.

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