Express & Star

Carlos Corberan outlines what is needed for Josh Maja to start for West Brom

Boss Carlos Corberan has emphasised the need for Josh Maja to be fit enough to start games for Albion.

Josh Maja netted his first goal for the club in the defeat to Leicester City (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Nigerian striker Maja, a summer free transfer signing, opened his goalscoring account for the Baggies with 89th-minute equaliser against Leicester, which did not prove enough for a point.

The 24-year-old arrived at The Hawthorns short on fitness having left former club Bordeaux, where he top scored last season, and progress was further stunted with a significant ankle injury in September.

But Maja returned from the bench in the recent win over Ipswich and having netted against the Foxes is now pushing for a first start against his former club Sunderland, where he burst on to the scene in League One in 2018/19, on Saturday lunchtime.

"I think Josh Maja, if he is not starting the game, it is because he still needed the time to be ready," said Corberan after Brandon Thomas-Asante again led Albion's frontline against Leicester. "Hopefully, during the next game he is more fit and he is ready to be in the pitch for more minutes because we know he's a very good player.

"I understand these things happen (fitness and injury) but he has scored many goals in his career, last year he was the player who scored more goals in France (Ligue 2) and he is a player for more who has the instinct of a goal.

"For me the most important thing is to have him available to compete with the team – that's all."

Maja played down the importance of his first Albion goal and instead stressed his priority was to support the team with work rate and energy.

"It was a big moment for me, I'm pleased to get my first goal for the club and hopefully it's the first of many," Maja said to BBC WM. "For me it was just about trying to do my job as well as I can. I wanted to go for the win, I felt the atmosphere was in our favour, obviously it didn't turn that way but we take the confidence from it.

"For me personally it's not the biggest, most important thing. Helping the team, working hard and doing my job to win games is the priority, if I can contribute with goals then great.

"If not and we win then great, I'm still happy.

"I'm grateful to get more minutes, I'm looking to hopefully continue to show my quality, that I'm willing to work hard for the team and hopefully help us win games."