West Brom defender Martin Kelly hasn’t played a single game since his sole appearance on loan at Wigan last winter.
Carlos Corberan has revealed that forgotten West Bromwich Albion man Martin Kelly is progressing in his recovery from his long-term knee injury, but that the defender remains some way off becoming available to him and returning to Championship action. Kelly, 33, signed on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2022 but took a little while to get up to speed and broke into the starting XI towards the end of Steve Bruce’s reign.
Kelly held his own in the Albion first team, despite the disappointments towards the end of Bruce’s tenure, and he initially retained his position in the side under interim boss Richard Beale, but his minutes under current boss Carlos Corberan have been next to zero; Kelly played four league minutes under the Spaniard and was handed minutes in the FA Cup against Chesterfield, before a loan opportunity with Wigan Athletic presented itself in January.
Impressing on his debut, in a goalless draw at play-off chasing Blackburn Rovers, Kelly was struck down with a knee injury which would rule him out for the rest of last season. Indeed they were his last competitive minutes full stop, having not yet made any sort of return while back at Albion, although progress is being made and he has made another step forward even this week.
Kelly’s general role in the first-team squad, though, is uncertain and Corberan indicated that all parties will sit down again in January and see if there is any possibility for another loan spell elsewhere, if he has not been exposed to enough openings in the current Albion set-up. Kelly’s two-year contract expires this coming summer.
“I have a lot of respect for a player like Kelly,” Corberan explained. “Never, for me, in football does a player who has made this kind of career not have special skills. His career has been very important in the Premier League. He has arrived at the club in the last part of his career. He was a player who, especially after I arrived, hasn’t had minutes.
“Sometimes a player needs to minutes to recover his level, especially at this age. That’s why we decided to loan him and to follow this process, and to see how he was for this season. Unfortunately, in first game for Wigan, he was injured. It has made it difficult to achieve this process.
“Now he is making his recovery. Friday, for example, is the first day he is going to work with one of our technical members of staff, so we are helping him in this process of recovery. After this he’ll be one player more, knowing he is going to be eight months without playing football. It makes it more difficult, of course, for him to be ready to play.
“We need to analyse when is the right moment, and to see what is the best decision for him to loan, or to keep. That’s something that, for now, I cannot tell you because it’s September. If you ask me right now is he ready, then I tell you he is not ready. If you ask me if he’s completed any training with the group, then no – he has not yet. Friday is the first day he’s going to do a technical drill with one of the coaches.”