Tuesday 20 March 2018

Berahino can give Roy Hodgson Euros selection headache, says Baggies boss Pulis

Saido Berahino is only just back in West Brom's starting line-up
Saido Berahino is only just back in West Brom's starting line-up

Saido Berahino can still rescue a disappointing season by forcing his way into Roy Hodgson's Euro 2016 squad, according to West Brom boss Tony Pulis.

The 22-year-old is back in the Baggies' starting XI after failing to earn a move away from the midlands club in two straight transfer windows, with a September strike threat issued on Twitter preceding a spell in the wilderness in between.

While Berahino has apologised for that social-media outburst, days before ending a four-month goal drought in the Barclays Premier League, he has failed to build on last season when he scored 20 goals and was called up to England's senior team.

Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane have since moved ahead of the uncapped Berahino in the pecking order and Hodgson this week refused to rule out including 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, whose Manchester United side face West Brom this weekend, in his Euro 2016 squad, even though his senior debut only came last week.

However, Pulis believes there is still time for Berahino to make it to France, if he stays focused.

"Saido's got to get his house in order and get everything sorted out," Pulis said. "He's played a couple of games and played exceptionally well. For the rest of the season it hasn't been a season that he'll look back on with relish.

"He's done brilliantly last couple of games. Let's hope he really, really hits form from now and the end of the season and everything changes quickly. If he can score five, six goals in the next 10 games and play as well as what he has done, there's no reason why he wouldn't have an outside chance for me to get selected.

"What Saido's got to do more than anything else is get on the pitch and work very, very hard and show the qualities he's got and score goals.

"I'm not telling Roy who to pick or who not to pick, I wouldn't do that with any national manager - that's their job, their responsibility. But what he can do is give him a little bit of a headache if he plays really well between now and the end of the season."

Though Berahino's Euro 2016 dream may be alive, Baggies team-mate Chris Brunt saw his extinguished in cruel fashion on Thursday when it was confirmed he had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

The injury, expected to keep the 31-year-old out for six months, means Brunt will be unable to represent Northern Ireland alongside club colleagues Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans at their first major international tournament in 30 years.

"At Chris' age and the fact Northern Ireland have got there for the first time in a long time, I think Chris was really looking forward to it along with G-Mac and Jonny," Pulis said.

"It's so, so unfortunate for the lad, so, so disappointing. But it's happened and Chris is going to have to get on with it. What we're talking about now is making sure we give him as much help as we possibly can to get himself fit for next season.

"This season obviously now has been washed away, the Euros has been washed away. It's important he focuses on getting himself fully prepared and ready to go for next season.

"Brunty will need a couple of days to get over it. You have to get over these things and unfortunately it's happened at a terrible time for the kid in lots of respects. It's happened and you have to be man enough to stand up and get on with it."

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