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Stefan Johansen is now 'up to speed' for West Brom

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Caretaker boss James Shan believes Albion are now seeing Stefan Johansen in full flow after a run of games.

Stefan Johansen celebrates with Dwight Gayle. (AMA)

The Norwegian midfielder arrived on loan from Fulham in January, but after a sluggish start in Albion colours, he's impressed in the past two games.

He enjoyed his best game for the Baggies yesterday, and had a hand in two of the goals in a 4-1 win over Preston North End.

"He was excellent," said Shan. "Stefan, when he came into the club he’d missed a lot of football at Fulham.

"With that volume of football you need to get upto speed. He’s had back-to-back performances, he was excellent at Bristol.

"Maybe it’s taking him back to the levels of Stefan Johansen. I thought he contributed really well."

Johansen offered support to a front two of Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez, who are each now on 21 goals for the season.

Albion are the only team in the top four tiers of English football to boast two players with 20 or more league goals, and it's the first time in 61 years the Baggies have had two players reach 21 league goals in a single campaign.

Shan reckons

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"They’re both on 21 goals now so fighting it out for our top goal scorer," he said. "We’ve played them as a front two partnership at times this season.

"I just thought to get our two most effective centre-forwards and our two highest goal scorers on the pitch was important.

"It came to fruition with the way they played together. Dwight gets three and Jay gets one. It’s been a big strength them playing together."

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Gayle and Rodriguez have an ongoing battle to be top scorer that heated up over the weekend, and Shan reckons that will only help the Baggies in the play-offs.

Shan added: "Knowing how they carry on around the training ground and how competitive they are being level pegging on goals can only be good for the football club in our remaining fixtures and possibly a play-off charge.

"It’s always good as centre-forward if you’re contributing goals because it breeds massive confidence.

"I was just asked a question bout Dwight being out of the goals for a time and now he’s back on the scoring scene - for their confidence it’s fantastic.

"Taking their goals away, both of them offer so much to the team and how it plays and performs."

Albion are expected to make an approach for Preston boss Alex Neil in the next 48 hours, which could end Shan's time in charge.

The caretaker helped steady the ship after Darren Moore's sacking, and he was rightly proud of his contribution over the past five weeks.

"From a personal point of view that’s six games and 12 points," he said. "We all know two points per game over the course of the season is Championship form.

"So from a personal experience and perspective I had a sense of pride and I’m absolutely delighted."

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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