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West Brom's Sam Johnstone desperate for return to the Premier League

Albion keeper Sam Johnstone has confirmed he wants to be back in the Premier League.

West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone
West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone

But the England international says he won’t let speculation regarding his future change his number one aim – to win promotion with the Baggies this season.

Johnstone is out of contract at the end of the season and is understood to be a target for a host of top flight clubs once he becomes a free agent.

West Ham, Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle have all been linked with the 28-year-old, who shone for Albion in the Premier League last year.

Johnstone is set to remain with Albion this month despite the transfer window being open – with the keeper eager to help the club get to the Premier League.

But he is expected to move on in the summer as he looks to cement his place in the England squad for the World Cup.

“There was a lot of talk in the summer. It (a transfer) just didn’t happen and we are focused on doing our best to get promoted back up this year,” Johnstone said.

“That is the only aim.

“I see the speculation and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s out of my control but I want to be back playing in the Premier League.”

Under Valerien Ismael, Johnstone has had to change the way he plays this season with the boss wanting him to operate as a sweeper-keeper behind a high defensive line. But along with Bournemouth’s Mark Travers he has kept more clean sheets (11) than any other keeper in the Championship this season.

And Johnstone said in his time with Albion he’s got used to managers wanting him to do slightly different things.

“I’ve experienced everything,” the shot-stopper continued.

“Darren Moore and (coach) Graeme Jones wanted us to play out from the back, I think that made me a better keeper with my feet.

“And Slaven Bilic was very good, very relaxed. We made our own decisions on the pitch.

“Big Sam (Sam Allardyce) came in and we went from one extreme to another but I thought he was great and would have kept us up if he’d had longer with us. I’m adaptable. We play a high line now.”

Johnstone has started two games for England this season despite playing his football in the Championship. And he admits he is incredibly grateful to manager Gareth Southgate for keeping him in the squad.

“I’m grateful to Gareth – he’s been very loyal still picking me after relegation,” Johnstone said.

“We have had little chats. I owe him a lot for what he has done for me — it would have been easy for him to not pick me.”

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