Dwight Gayle ready to deal with pressure at West Brom
Two-goal hero Dwight Gayle doesn't feel weighed down by expectation at Albion this season – because he's seen it all before at Newcastle.
The Baggies striker netted two sublime goals in their 2-1 victory over Stoke at the weekend to ensure Darren Moore's men entered the international break on a high.
He's aware that there is pressure to deliver promotion this season, and having arrived with 23 goals in his last Championship campaign, he knows many are looking at him to deliver.
But the 27-year-old, who has quickly won round Albion fans with his infectious grin, relentless running, and predatory instincts, reckons experience winning promotion with the Magpies will stand him in good stead this term.
"It's obviously very similar [to being at Newcastle two seasons ago] because we're expected to do well and we've got some great quality in here," said Gayle.
"But we also know that we have to work just as hard as every other team or you find yourself unstuck and it's difficult.
"Middlesbrough gave us an understanding about what goes wrong if we don't work hard.
"It was vital to pick up a win because we didn't want to go into the break with two losses on the bounce.
"Now we've picked up this win we can enjoy the next two weeks and get back training."
After eight years in the Premier League mainly focused on survival, Albion have had to change their approach in order to win games in the Championship, but Gayle says there is mental strength in the squad ready for the shift.
"It's difficult to deal with [expectation], but at the same time it's part of football," said Gayle. "If you don't deal with it you find yourself struggling.
"The mentality here is excellent. It's important not to get too carried away, we beat QPR and found ourselves unstuck at Boro.
"We can't get too carried away when we win or when we lose. We just need to keep progressing as a team.
"We know that every game is going to be difficult in this league. In the Championship you never know who is going to be at the top, it changes every season and teams that come down have struggled.
"For us to be up there at the moment is a complement to the manager and staff and hopefully we can push on."
Having won three penalties for strike partner Jay Rodriguez already this season, Gayle has played the bridesmaid so far.
But on Saturday it was his turn to be the bride thanks to two clinical goals that won Albion the game.
"I'm buzzing, and delighted to get the three points before the international break so we can build on what we did in the next two weeks," he said.
"It's important we put teams to bed and take our chances better but I thought we played a really good game and created a lot of chances.
"You can see what we've been doing in training out on the pitch and I'm sure the fans are happy with the way we're playing.
"It was a couple of good goals from myself. I'm always happy to help out the team if I can score, but it's obviously thanks to two great balls from (Kieran) Gibbo and Jake (Livermore), so I thank them as well.
"Jay's been getting all the fun and the celebrations in. Luckily it was my turn, hopefully we keep taking turns and get the wins.
"Me and Jay are getting on really well and Harvey (Barnes) behind is perfect to feed us for what we want to do.
"Not only that but the defenders are playing well under pressure and feeding us, that's what we need to start the patterns of play and I thought they did that fantastically.
"Hopefully I will get as many goals as I can and help the team out any way I can whether it's assisting, scoring, working hard or getting the team up the pitch. I'm sure all the boys feel the same way."
But Gayle reserved special praise for Livermore, who curled in a perfect ball for him from the halfway line for his second goal.
"We spoke about it," admitted Gayle. "He obviously knows I like to run in behind so as long as I keep getting service like that I'll try and get my fair share.
"Jake was fantastic, I mentioned it to him after the game, I'm going to demand that from him every game now! Hopefully he continues to do that."