Belfast Telegraph

Little for Pulis to worry about

West Brom head coach Tony Pulis almost has a fully-fit squad to pick from for his first Barclays Premier League game in charge against Hull.

Only Jonas Olsson is sidelined for the Baggies after Achilles surgery and is a few weeks off returning.

Joleon Lescott is likely to return after being rested for the 7-0 win FA Cup over Gateshead and Victor Anichebe is fit after a minor groin problem.

Pulis insists he wants to keep Saido Berahino at West Brom but admits every player has their price.

The new Baggies boss oversaw a 7-0 FA Cup win over Gateshead last week where Berahino scored four goals to take his tally to 13 for the season.

Berahino was also charged with drink driving this week and is due to appear before North Cheshire magistrates in Runcorn on January 19 - the day the Baggies go to Everton.

Albion have not received any bid for the England Under-21 international and Pulis would not welcome one.

"For everyone here we'd like to keep him," he said.

"If you're asking me whether I want to sell him now, not at all because he has been absolutely first class.

"We've had no offers for Saido, he is scoring goals and has been a pleasure to work with. He has been the last on the training ground every morning, doing extra with Kempy (Dave Kemp) and Jewelly (Paul Jewell).

"The important thing is we have to make sure he has a clear mind when he goes on the football pitch."

But Pulis knows the Baggies would struggle to resist a huge bid and pointed to Liverpool's £75million sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona last season.

"You have a situation where Suarez goes from Liverpool when they finished second last year and they sell him because it was the right deal for the football club," he said.

"Everyone is available in every shape and form and there's no difference about that."

Steve Bruce has good reason to fear Pulis - for it was little more than a year ago that his Hull side fell victim to Crystal Palace within hours of Pulis being installed as manager.

Bruce admits that Pulis' appointment was "the worst thing" that could happen to the other managers at relegation-threatened clubs, such is his proven track record.

The Tigers' visit to the Hawthorns could be decisive in terms of where the two sides finish come the middle of May - Hull are a point ahead of the Baggies on 19 points after a couple of crucial wins over Christmas.

Bruce said: "Him being appointed was the worst thing that could happen to us all, and I mean that in a respectful way to Tony. His tenure at Crystal Palace was nothing short of sensational.

"I think I said a year ago for all the teams at the bottom it was a bad appointment for us and I think we will all think that against West Brom.

"He is a proven manager at this level, he knows how to set the team up to make sure they stay in this division and has a good group of players to work with.

"So for all the rest of us it's a poor appointment but for Tony himself it's good to see him back."

Striker Sone Aluko is set to miss the trip to the midlands with a calf injury suffered in the FA Cup defeat at Arsenal.

Michael Dawson will be back in the squad however after missing several weeks with a hamstring problem while James Chester (knee) should also be available after missing the Arsenal game.

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