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Blackburn v West Brom - Match preview

Albion are sweating on the fitness of striker Karlan Grant ahead of tomorrow’s Championship trip to early leaders Blackburn Rovers.

 Karlan Grant  (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Karlan Grant (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Grant has two goals in two games after netting the winner from the bench in Thursday’s Carabao Cup success over Sheffield United – but at a potential cost after limping off shortly afterwards.

The striker landed heavily on his back and was in some pain after the game, revealed boss Steve Bruce.

Albion are hoping the issue settles down and Grant will be able to partake in some training today ahead of the trip to Ewood Park tomorrow, where the Baggies run into a side in fine early-season form.

Under the new management of former AC Milan and Denmark striker Jon Dahl Tomasson, Rovers have won all three games in all competitions, are the only side with a 100 per cent record intact and are yet to concede a goal.

“They’ve been very, very good,” Bruce said of tomorrow’s hosts. “Totally different to what they were last year, a new manager, different idea, they’ve got some good players at the top end of the pitch.

“I saw them at the back end of last season against Preston and they were very impressive.

“They had a decent season last year and have some good players. They’ve had a good start, but so have we, even though we haven’t had the results I’ve been really pleased with how we’ve performed.”

Albion are also unbeaten from two Championship outings but have posted just the two points on the board after two 1-1 draws and are vying for that first league win.

Grant’s availability is crucial for Albion after Daryl Dike was ruled out for at least a couple of months with a torn hamstring. Kenneth Zohore is also injured leaving Bruce desperately short up front. Teenage striker Reyes Cleary, who made his first senior start on Thursday, could travel and be involved.

Bruce, meanwhile, opened up about the sleepless nights for exciting youngster Cleary either side of his full senior debut – as well as the teen’s desire to score goals.

The 18-year-old hot prospect marked his first senior start with an eye-catching display against a seasoned Sheffield United side in Thursday’s Carabao Cup win.

Robust youngster Cleary, who last week signed a first professional contract, looked after himself and the ball against a physical Blades backline and had a couple of efforts on goal.

Bruce admitted the youth team star had a ‘pleasant surprise’ when receiving his Cup starters orders on Wednesday.

“He’s physical, powerful for a young boy,” said boss Bruce after the game. “He’s still got a long way to go, don’t get me wrong, but he wants to score a goal.

“He’s got that mentality, it doesn’t change, you can see that as soon as he comes into the team.

“He come in on his right foot and smashed one (at the keeper). He had a big chance, he won’t sleep after that.

“I was pleased for him, he got a bit of a pleasant surprise yesterday when he was told he was in the team. I’m sure he didn’t sleep much on Wednesday night.

“He can be very, very proud of himself, and can his family.”

Bruce added on Cleary, who as a scholar was linked with a host of European clubs: “He can score a goal and he was close today. He had his first shot going in there.

“It didn’t really faze him, the kid, it’s the start of hopefully a very decent career.”

Last night’s Cup progression was a proud occasion for the Baggies academy, with eight graduates involved in the matchday 20, including another first start – for left-back Zac Ashworth, 19.

“I think they’ve done well,” Bruce said. “Gardner-Hickman’s come through, Tom Fellows has come through.

“I’m like everybody, the way the academy is I think we’ve proved over the last two or three years we’ve been successful with it.

“Unfortunately we’ve lost too many, where the system fails us, but we keep producing one or two which is essential for the good of the club.

“For now, with myself, I’m always likely to put a young one in and I’m delighted to give him his debut.”

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