West Brom heroes handed a break
Albion’s players will report for pre-season training on Monday, August 17, the Express & Star can reveal.
Preparations for the 2020/21 campaign will begin in just 11 days’ time – less than four weeks after the Baggies secured promotion to the Premier League with a 2-2 draw against QPR.
The 2019/20 season was one of the longest and most gruelling in history due to the coronavirus pandemic, with it eventually running from August all the way through to July.
And following their promotion to the top flight, Slaven Bilic told all his players to have a three-week break and do as little as possible in a bid to recharge their batteries.
But with the Premier League season set to kick-off on September 12, Albion’s players haven’t been able to enjoy the welcome rest period that usually comes with pre-season.
They will now report to their Walsall training base on August 17 where they will initially have two days of fitness training to assess their condition.
Albion usually go abroad for a pre-season training camp with the team heading to Benidorm in Spain last year.
Ideally, the Baggies would like to get away to a hotel that caters for professional sports teams during pre-season to give the players a change of scenery. But those plans are yet to be finalised.
Albion are also working on a handful of pre-season friendlies that they will use to build up their fitness ahead of the competitive action getting under way.
Meanwhile, the Express & Star understands a close relationship with technical director Luke Dowling was key to Xu Ke – who is known as Ken – becoming Albion’s new chief executive.
Ken, a close associate of owner Guochuan Lai, has been working alongside former CEO Mark Jenkins for the past two years.
But after 18 combined years, Jenkins announced his retirement on Monday.
And Ken’s close relationship with Dowling was one of the reasons why he was promoted to chief executive instead of Albion head-hunting for the role.
Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic is reportedly willing to listen to offers for Kieran Gibbs, Oliver Burke and Kenneth Zohore as he looks to reshape his squad for the Premier League.
Reports suggest that due to the club’s promotion, Gibbs’ wages will be set to increase – meaning he’s likely to be made available to willing buyers, with Wigan’s Antonee Robinson reportedly being targeted as a potential replacement.