Belfast Telegraph

Chris Brunt: West Brom need to target Europe to progress

West Brom's Chris Brunt insists Albion need to target Europe if they want to progress.

The Baggies are seventh in the Premier League after Wednesday's 3-1 victory over Swansea maintained their pre-Christmas form.

They have won four of their last six games - scoring 10 goals in three home matches in the process - to emerge as unlikely European contenders.

Tony Pulis' side are in their seventh-straight season in the top flight after promotion in 2010 and Brunt, who joined in 2007, believes the Europa League should be an aim.

"You always have to push, at the end of the day that's the next step for us," said the midfielder, who turned 32 on Wednesday.

"We have been a mid-table Premier League team for five or six seasons now. Five or six teams flirt with relegation but progression for us would be to get away from that and push up the table.

"The likes of Southampton have done that over the last couple of seasons. There's no reason why we couldn't do that but it's difficult to sustain it over the season for a club the size of ours.

"We have done well for a club of this size to sustain it in the Premier League but it would be nice to push on and be a little bit more successful. The top five or six teams are financially out of our league and (during the) transfer window is difficult to keep up with that."

Albion host Manchester United on Saturday just a place behind them following Salomon Rondon's hat-trick against Swansea.

Rondon scored the winner in the Baggies' 1-0 victory over United at The Hawthorns in March and he has seven goals this season - with Brunt hopeful the striker will ignore any interest from elsewhere.

"No, that's the thing. If he keeps playing well and doing well for us that (interest) will be a natural thing but if we can keep plugging away and moving up the table hopefully he'll be happy to keep doing it for us," said the Northern Ireland international.

"He's a good all-round striker, he doesn't lack anything and he has been fantastic since he signed and we're seeing the best of him this season, long may it continue."

Meanwhile, West Brom and Watford have both been fined £45,000 by the Football Association a fter admitting a misconduct charge following an incident which occurred in the 84th minute of their Premier League match on December 3.

The two clubs were disciplined for failing ''to ensure their players and/or officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour''.

Watford's Roberto Pereyra reacted angrily to a challenge by West Brom winger James McClean, leading to a melee that brought both managers onto the pitch. Pereyra was sent off, although he subsequently had his ban reduced from three games to one game.

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