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Steve Bruce weighing up time to offer West Brom's Okay Yokuslu league start

Steve Bruce has admitted to treading carefully around the re-introduction of Okay Yokuslu as he considers handing the Albion midfielder a league start.

Okay Yokuslu of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship between Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park on August 14, 2022 in Blackburn, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Okay Yokuslu of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship between Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park on August 14, 2022 in Blackburn, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Turkey international midfielder Yokuslu recently returned to the club on a permanent basis and is pushing to be involved from the off.

The Baggies welcome Cardiff to The Hawthorns tomorrow looking for a first league win at the fourth attempt.

Popular midfield man Yokuslu, 28, has so far enjoyed substitute appearances against Watford and Blackburn and an EFL Cup start over Sheffield United.

Bruce is of no doubt the quality Yokuslu can add to his side’s midfield ranks and is weighing up right time to involve him from the off.

“He’s a bloody good player, the kid,” Bruce said when asked of Yokuslu’s impact from the bench at Ewood Park on Sunday.

“I think everybody knows that, he’s going to be a big addition.

“We’ve been careful for him, whether he’s ready for Wednesday or Saturday we’ll make our call.”

Yokuslu is one of just three natural senior central midfield options for Albion after Alex Mowatt was allowed to leave for Middlesbrough on loan to free up finances in the club’s striker pursuit.

He is battling with Jayson Molumby and Jake Livermore for the two midfield spots in Bruce’s 4-2-3-1.

Though the manager acknowledged the versatility of youngster Taylor Gardner-Hickman, who operated in midfield on a number of occasions last season.

“It gives me the possibility, he played there most of last year, so we know he can do it,” said Bruce of Gardner-Hickman becoming a midfield option.

“His favourite position is obviously full-back but we know he can play in midfield.

“That can only be a plus for us, that he can play a couple (of positions), helps.”

Adam Reach was also a late substitute in the middle of the park at Blackburn, after John Swift had dropped into the role following Bruce’s attacking triple substitute on the hour.

One of those additions was Callum Robinson, who was busy in the No.10 role. Robinson returned to the fold in last week’s Cup success over the Blades, in which he created Karlan Grant’s winner.

“Robbo reminded us he’s a good player, I’ve got no problem with Robbo at all, he’s a very, very good player,” Bruce said.

“We needed strengthening up that end of the pitch and it’s still tonight a little bit of our Achilles.

“The reason we brought Swifty and Jed (Wallace) in is all of a sudden we’re more of a threat than last year. But we’ve lost two No.9s, Zohore and Dike, which is never part of the script.

“That’s the beauty of him, he’s helpful to me because he play anywhere across the frontline.

“I think that’s his best position, a free role to drop in those pockets, he certainly has the relationship with Granty.

“He got nine or 10 goals and nine or 10 assists last year, no problem with him.”

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