Belfast Telegraph

Berahino not for sale - Irvine

Head coach Alan Irvine has vowed West Brom will not sell Saido Berahino in the transfer window.

The Hawthorns boss insists their eight-goal striker is going nowhere next month as the Baggies fight relegation.

Berahino has failed to score in his last seven games but was linked with a move to Inter Milan in the Italian media this week.

Chairman Jeremy Peace has also said Berahino will stay with the Baggies and Irvine has now reiterated that stance.

He said: "You certainly can't stop people looking, but the chairman has come out and said Saido won't be sold in January and I would imagine, as the chairman has said that, that he won't be sold.

"There will be a big focus on him and I expect people will have been looking at him and there will be a lot of people continuing to do that until the end of the transfer window.

"We can't stop them looking but that doesn't mean we have to take any offers that come in and the chairman has made it fairly clear how he feels about that.

"He has said Saido is not for sale so I don't imagine he is going to change that, whatever comes in.

"His goals are important. Everybody needs goalscorers."

Berahino is ready to return for Saturday's West Midlands derby with Aston Villa after being on the bench in last weekend's 0-0 draw at Hull, which left Albion a point above the Barclays Premier League drop zone.

Irvine added: "He was obviously disappointed not to be in the team and I would be upset if he wasn't disappointed but he has responded in the right way for any professional but he has come in and trained well this week and that's the best way to deal with this."

Irvine is without captain Chris Brunt for the weekend after he failed to recover from his hamstring injury. Jonas Olsson is also out following an operation on his Achilles but Claudio Yacob is available following a ban.

Christian Benteke is "cool and calm enough" to handle any rough stuff from West Brom, according to Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert.

Albion captain Brunt was quoted as saying the best way of handling Villa's Belgian frontman was to "kick him" when they come up against their local rivals this week.

However Lambert is sure Brunt's comments were "tongue-in-cheek" and has no concerns about Benteke's temperament after his recent red card for retaliation against Tottenham.

"Listen, I don't think about that," said the Villa boss.

"As long as Christian keeps playing the way he has been for me, we'll concentrate on our own team and our own lads.

"I'm pretty sure if he (Brunt) has said that, it was tongue-in-cheek.

"I know exactly where he's coming from, so there's no problem with that. Christian is playing really well at the moment."

Benteke has only recently returned from a three-game ban for raising his hand to Spurs' Ryan Mason after being given some rough treatment during the Londoners' 2-1 win at Villa Park.

Lambert does not believe too much should be read into that flashpoint, however, and backed the Belgium international to keep his head in future.

"Listen, it happened once (recently) when he was sent off at Tottenham," said the Scot.

"But there's never really been a problem with Christian's temperament at all. It's the only time I've really seen him retaliate, which he knows he shouldn't have done.

"I don't think he'll do it again.

"Christian is cool and calm enough to handle that."

Key men Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph could be in contention to return to action against Albion.

Skipper Vlaar has been out since early November with a calf injury while England midfielder Delph dislocated his shoulder in October, but both have returned to training and may make surprise returns.

Tom Cleverley (bruised foot) is a doubt and fellow midfielder Ashley Westwood will miss around a month with a knee injury.

Forward Andi Weimann returns from suspension but defenders Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker remain out, as does midfielder Joe Cole.


From Belfast Telegraph