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Okay Yokuslu in contention for Watford – West Brom boss Steve Bruce

Albion have been boosted by a possible ahead-of-schedule return for new recruit Okay Yokuslu.

Okay Yokuslu arriving at Middlesbrough last week. He could make his second Baggies debut against Watford on Monday. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Okay Yokuslu arriving at Middlesbrough last week. He could make his second Baggies debut against Watford on Monday. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

The Turkey international, who returned to The Hawthorns on a three-year deal last month, had been set to make his second debut for the club in the League Cup tie against Sheffield United next Thursday.

Steve Bruce and his fitness staff have been working on bringing the 28-year-old up to speed after a disrupted pre-season amid his departure from Celta Vigo.

But Bruce has admitted Yokuslu has impressed in training this week and is pushing to be involved in the next game, at home to Watford in the Championship on Monday evening.

"With Okay I'll make the decision later – in my mind I always had the idea that I'd play him in the cup, but we'll see," Bruce said. "He's trained well this week.

"That's the beauty of getting them together for four or five weeks. It helps enormously, they can come into the group.

"Him being here before, he already had his flat sorted before he'd touched down in the plane.

"I think that was the big advantage that we had over everybody, was that he really enjoyed it and it went well for him personally.

"I think he enjoyed the club and the supporters, that helped us enormously. He's a good player."

Speaking of a possible return to action, which was initially pencilled in for the Blades next Thursday, the manager added: "That was the plan. The way he's trained this week, he's certainly put himself in contention for Monday as well."

Bruce revealed striker Karlan Grant is carrying a knock, which is not thought to be serious.

Attacker Callum Robinson, meanwhile, who has been linked with a return to Preston this summer, has been back in training this week after a number of weeks on the sidelines with an injury collected in pre-season.

"Everybody's okay," Bruce added. "We've got a couple of knocks, one to Granty but we think he's going to be okay. Robinson trains tomorrow, he's trained all week. Okay looks a lot better than he did two weeks ago, so we're in decent shape to be perfectly honest."

The manager added praise for Jake Livermore, who battled through following a bout of Covid to play 90 minutes at Middlesbrough in last weekend's curtain-raiser.

"I have to say Jake did fantastically well to get through it," Bruce said. "There were a few tired bodies which you'd expect, Jake in particular. He was bed ridden on the Tuesday, I don't think he'd mind me saying with Covid, so the way he played was typical of Jake in the way we've got used to.

"Sometimes that can be taken for granted, by it's certainly not by me that's for sure."

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