By Joe Ellis

20th Jan, 2022 | 8:10am

West Brom to be cautious in getting powerful forward match fit

West Brom are prepared to play the long game when it comes to getting new signing Daryl Dike up to match ready with a brutal schedule coming up.

The 21-year-old came off the bench to make his Baggies debut in the 1-0 defeat away to QPR on Saturday but a start could still be a few games away for the American.

But with those games coming thick and fast for West Brom, manager Valerien Ismael could have Dike ready to go from the start sooner than he may have thought.

“The good thing when he arrived, I said to him ‘do you remember the principles?’ and he told me straight away what he had to do in possession, out of possession,” said Ismael, as quoted by the Express and Star.

“I said ‘brilliant’. He hasn’t forgot. It’s all about fitness now – it’s not about tactics. He knows the principles, it’s just about getting him 100 per cent fit.

“He had four weeks off, now he’s two weeks into a pre-season for him. Normally in pre-season, after five/six weeks the players are able to play every three days.

“The good thing with Dike is that he played the previous season with consistency.

“Through the game, he will get his fitness, but we need to manage him because the schedule is ruthless.”

MLS Advantage

Even though Ismael is treating this as Dike’s pre-season, it isn’t like he has been feet up on the beach for two months prior to joining the club.

He was a key part of Orlando City’s run to the MLS playoffs in November where they were beaten 3-1 by Nashville in the Eastern Conference.

Admittedly, the MLS doesn’t have the same intensity that the Championship offers and there was still a month of no football for the powerful forward which will have set him back slightly.

But he will no doubt be further along in his fitness regime than he would have been in a traditional pre-season and he will make an impact at the Hawthorns, even if it is off the bench at first.

The quicker Dike can get up to speed with the Championship again, the better chance West Brom will have of keeping up with the race for automatic promotion.

In other West Brom news, it’s the last chance saloon for the Baggies in their pursuit of this player.