Tony Pulis has urged Saido Berahino to “get his head down” and rediscover his best form because West Brom still need him.
Pulis, who on Saturday against his former club Stoke will take charge of the 1,000th game of his managerial career, thinks Berahino has never been the same since the club denied him the chance to join Tottenham just over a year ago.
The striker has struggled for fitness and form and been in and out of the team over the past 12 months, managing just seven goals last season.
West Brom scored four times last weekend against West Ham without Berahino even entering the action, with Salomon Rondon and recent club-record signing Nacer Chadli now seemingly the first-choice attacking pairing.
However, Albion head coach Pulis insists there is still a place for the former England Under-21 international if he can get himself back on track.
“Everything is closed down again now and we’ve still got Saido,” Pulis said. “We need to make sure we get the best out of him because on his best form he is a top, top player and we need as many of those as we can lay our hands on.
“He was the best player here when I arrived at the club. He really was top guy. What did he get? Something like 12 goals in 18 games?
“But we never got him back after all that business. We’ve got to make sure we get him back.
“Saido needs to get his head down and get his level of fitness back and if he does that then he’ll be in demand because he’s an out-and-out goalscorer at the top level. So hopefully he gets back to fitness and gets his mind focused and we have him in the squad. We need him.
“Hopefully now he can focus on playing football and getting himself fit and ready to get back in the team.”
Berahino will hope to do just that at Stoke, with Pulis hinting that he might make one or two changes to his starting line-up despite last weekend’s impressive 4-2 victory over West Ham.
The Baggies boss will have an unchanged squad. James Morrison’s return from injury against the Hammers and Hal Robson-Kanu’s inclusion for the first time last weekend means the only player unavailable to Pulis is Chris Brunt as he continues to make his way back from a knee injury.