Big aims for West Brom's Daryl Dike
Daryl Dike has some big aims for the year ahead.
The £7million striker endured a nightmare start to his Albion career when he picked up what turned out to be a season-ending injury just 60 minutes into his home debut.
For Dike, though, that moment and his subsequent rehabilitation is in the past.
And he is now focused on showing Albion fans his talent, leading America at the World Cup and firing the Baggies into the Premier League.
It’s a long list of targets. But after six months of frustration, Dike is only looking forward.
“For me, first of all it’s here (Albion),” Dike said when asked about his aims for the next 12 months. “I want to be playing every single game and doing everything I can to help this team.
“For this club the target is a big one – get back to the Premier League. The Premier League is the dream and we have a great group to do that.
“That’s what we want, it’s what we train for everyday. We take it game by game, but the aim is to be number one.
“On the national scale, I want to be the man, I want to be the striker at the World Cup. Of course it’s in the back of my mind, staying fit for it is one thing but making sure I’m in form for the tournament and the camps to come.”
Dike has faced a lot since swapping Orlando for his new home in Birmingham seven months ago.
Alongside his hamstring injury, Valerien Ismael was sacked just weeks after his arrival – the manager he had worked so successfully with at Barnsley and the man who was desperate to bring him to The Hawthorns.
But while Dike and Ismael are close, the striker says the transition to working under Steve Bruce has been a smooth one.
“It’s been a good transition,” the 22-year-old continued. “The staff here, they see my qualities, they help me to work on things so that I can integrate with their system.
“It’s good to have coaches like that, who identify each person and look at how good they are and how can we improve this player, rather than collectively as a group. Of course they’re helping collectively as a group, but they go to each person and say ‘how can I help you with this?’ They’re always there to answer your question.
“For me, it’s been great. He (Bruce) has done a great job, but it’s only the beginning.”
Despite having spent a long time sidelined with injury, Dike still managed to put his time to good use.
The forward was studying for a degree in finance before he joined Albion.
And not only did he graduate last month, he did so in the top five per cent of his class.
“In the summer, it’s always good to get off my feet and stop thinking solely of football, football, football,” Dike said.“I go and see my friends, go and see my family. Of course the degree was something I’ve always worked towards.
“I owe a lot of credit to my family and my parents, who have always pushed me to get that degree.
“It’s great and I’m happy to have got it and to be given the opportunity at school to continue my education while I’m doing my thing and playing football.”
Now with the degree safely in his pocket, Dike’s focus is firmly back on football.
And he feels good heading into the new campaign – with his injury woes firmly in the past.
“I feel good, I’ll be up to speed in no time with these coaching staff and the good group of players around me to push me and keep me going,” Dike said after starting Albion’s first pre-season friendly of the summer against Leyton Orient. “After a long pre-season, especially for me not being on the pitch for a long time and not being able to play alongside the guys, to get minutes in the legs was great.
“But I’m confident in myself. With the help of the guys, I’ll be good.”
While Dike suffered a setback on the pitch when he first joined Albion, away from it he says he couldn’t have settled better with the striker thoroughly enjoying life in the West Midlands.
“I’m living around Birmingham,” he added. “Everyone is so friendly, it’s a nice city to live in. I go on walks all the time. I enjoy doing stuff, going out for dinner, stuff like that. I love it.”