Express & Star

Erik Pieters: Extended break came at good time for West Brom

Albion's extended break came at a good time according to experienced defender Erik Pieters - ahead of nine 'huge games' in the race for the Championship play-offs.


Carlos Corberan's side have enjoyed a longer international break than other Championship teams - after their scheduled clash with Sheffield United on March 18 was postponed due to the Blades' progression in the FA Cup.

They return to action on Saturday as they welcome play-off rivals Millwall to The Hawthorns - and Pieters insisted the time off has allowed Albion to come back refreshed and ready for their final assault on the top six.

He said: "It's been good. The international break is always good for a couple of days off and to spend time with the family, so for me this time it was a good week to work on specific things at the club, but at the same time enjoy the family as well.

"It was extended because the Sheffield game was postponed, so we got four days off and I was happy to see my wife and little one in Spain, I went there to see them, so it was good.

"I think so. Everyone knows that we have a couple of major injuries, and that's just a shame. When the game is postponed and you already have a couple of injuries, it's good to have a longer break and make sure everyone comes back and is ready for these nine games."

It has been a rollercoaster season for Pieters - who found himself out of contract last summer after leaving newly relegated Burnley.

As the summer transfer window slammed shut, the Dutch defender remained without a club before signing for Albion in mid September following a trial period.

So far, the 34-year-old has played 27 times in all competitions this season for Albion - the majority of those at centre back alongside Dara O'Shea, following an injury to Kyle Bartley.

And the former Stoke City man admitted his season has been 'quite a journey' - from life without a club to being a mainstay in the Albion side.

He said: "I was here for a couple of weeks, at least!

"I was happy to get out of the house and show myself. When the opportunity came and I spoke to my agent, for me it was a no brainer. I want to get out of the house, be with the lads again and play some football.

"It's the first time in my career that I have been on this journey and, to be honest, I didn't like it at all.

"The missus had had enough of me at home. It's been quite a journey. I always believed that I could still play at a high level. The key for me is to get back into the Premier League with West Brom."