Express & Star

Carlos Corberan optimistic in his injury update on West Brom defensive regular

Albion boss Carlos Corberan is hopeful Cedric Kipre is poised to make a swift return from the shoulder injury that saw him sidelined for Monday's 2-2 draw with Watford.

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The Baggies defender was withdrawn from last Friday's contest at Millwall, from which his side claimed a point, with a pain in his shoulder and Albion assessed the issue over the weekend prior to Monday's visit of Watford.

Kipre, one of Albion's regular and standout performers this term, attempted to train on Sunday but was unable to due to discomfort and was uninvolved in the 2-2 comeback draw against the Hornets.

Head coach Corberan insists Kipre "needs to be ready" to train over the next 24 hours or so in mind to being in contention for Saturday's clash at relegation-battling Stoke.

"On Sunday he tried to train with the medical department and he couldn't," Corberan said.

"Still there is soreness. We expect that, with the passing of the next 48 hours, I think he needs to be ready to train with the team.

"Hopefully he is ready and is available (for Saturday) but always it's important to have our full squad ready for my selection."

Fellow defender Semi Ajayi started in Kipre's place against Watford for what was the Nigerian's first club start since the final game of 2023, the home victory against Leeds.

He has spent two stints away with his national side since, and started a number of games including a run as an ever-present to the African Cup of Nations final – but has had to make do with a place on Albion's bench since a return to these shores.

Ajayi enjoyed a solid return to Albion starting duty and was one of his side's better performers in the rollercoaster Hornets clash.

Corberan reckons central defence is one of his squad's strongest departments and the regular minutes for Ajayi when he goes away on international duty – he has added 12 caps to his tally during this season alone – help the 30-year-old integrate back into action for his club.

The head coach said: "I think in the level of our centre backs is one of our strengths as a team.

"It's true that Cedric has been the stable player in the first XI, probably for his versatility to play right and left, and for his level too. Bartley has been playing many minutes with him too.

"When Bartley was injured, Pieters arrived in a level which helped a lot the team to compete and play well.

"Here, we made the decision to play Ajayi, who has been playing in the first XI of Nigeria whenever he goes away, so it means that he is a player with a lot of possibilities. Our centre backs right now are one of our strengths of the team."