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'He's Mr Albion': Chris Brunt hailed by West Brom boss ahead of potential promotion and club exit

 

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Moving on: Chris Brunt will not have his West Brom contract renewed

Moving on: Chris Brunt will not have his West Brom contract renewed

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Moving on: Chris Brunt will not have his West Brom contract renewed

Chris Brunt will end his 13-year stay at West Brom as a club hero, boss Slaven Bilic has said.

The former Northern Ireland star will depart the club at the end of the season, which they will hope will be tomorrow night.

The Baggies are at home to QPR knowing a win will be enough to rubber-stamp their return to the Premier League, joining Leeds United in the automatic promotion spots.

Any slip up, however, and they could be set for a play-off battle with Brentford entering the final day of fixtures just one point behind and Fulham another point further back.

There would certainly be no better way for club captain Brunt to sign off than on a promotion-winning day at the Hawthorns.

He has made only six substitute appearances in the Championship this term but, aided by the new five substitutes rule, there's little doubt Bilic will be eyeing a cameo for the 35-year-old should victory be safe in the closing stages.

Even if the promotion isn't signed, sealed and delivered as the games nears its climax, the Croatian boss could still turn to Brunt's experience to see his side over the line, as he did earlier this month when he brought Brunt on for the final 18 minutes against Hull. Just four minutes later, WBA made the game safe with an added goal to seal the 4-2 success.

Whether or not Brunt gets his dream send-off, however, Bilic has heaped praise on the former Sheffield Wednesday man, particularly for his behind-the-scenes impact during a season that has brought such scant on-field opportunity.

“If there was a guy who was not inside the training ground or the dressing room, or The Hawthorns, or hotels that we stay in, and they counted his minutes, they’d say he did not have an important role,” Bilic explained of Brunt's 19/20 campaign.

“But he has been instrumental. On the pitch when we’ve needed him, I don’t remember him putting a foot wrong. On the contrary, he helped us in those games big time.

“Off the pitch, around the place, in training; I’ve been around a long time, and he’s an unbelievable character - in a positive way.

“He’s Mr Albion, and I’ve told him already, when we announced that he was going to leave at the end of the season. What I said then, I can only repeat. That is a big thank you.”

Tomorrow's Championship fixtures all kick-off at 7.30pm with huge ramifications at either end of the table.

While West Brom, Brentford and Fulham chase automatic promotion, Cardiff and Nottingham Forest need just a point each to secure a play-off place ahead of Swansea.

At the other end of the table, Grant McCann's Hull City need a minor miracle to avoid the drop as they take on Cardiff City. A win is a must, while Wigan and Luton have to fall to defeat while Barnsley are denied victory.

Bizarrely, however, clubs may not be 100% certain if they have been relegated or not even at full-time with Wigan's appeal against a 12-point deduction not expected to be heard until up to five days after the final round of games.

Middlesbrough, including Northern Ireland midfielders Paddy McNair and George Saville, and Birmingham are not yet safe, two points clear of the relegation zone.

Belfast Telegraph