Striker Josh Maja won’t be available to West Brom until later in November after his recent injury, but he’s settling in quickly
Josh Maja might be having to cope with the prospect of no football this side of the November international break, but the West Brom import appears to have already settled into his new surroundings having been welcomed into the Albion dressing room. Maja, 24, suffered an ankle ligament injury at Bristol City over a week ago and will be out for two months.
It’s a blow for all concerned, not least Maja himself who had just turned in his most promising cameo in an Albion shirt to date prior to suffering that injury, which occurred with practically the last kick of the game. He’s now set to miss at least the next eight matches and, on Saturday, although he’s yet to get off the mark, Albion missed his predatory abilities.
Still, all any player can do in such a situation is recover, remain diligent as they rehabilitate themselves and focus on getting back to first-team training and, then, the football pitch as quickly as possible. Maja is doing so, having come to terms with that early set-back, and his spirits are being kept high by his teammates, not least of all strike partner Brandon Thomas-Asante.
It’s a particular pity for the Albion forward, who has led the line for 90+ minutes in the following games since Maja’s injury – and who had to do so at the tail end of last season following Daryl Dike’s serious injury blow. Those fleeting moments when Carlos Corberan employed the pair together at Ashton Gate offered a glimpse of what is possible on the other side of this layoff.
In the meantime, Thomas-Asante – who might’ve doubled his seasonal tally in this past week but ultimately without being able to add to the three he has – is building up an understanding with the Baggies’ only permanent summer recruit away from the pitch, in preparation for his return to it in the weeks to come.
“It’s been good and, personally, it can be harder physically to play up top on your own, but it’s something I’ve got used to and am capable of doing now,” Thomas-Asante said. “Me and Josh got to play together and it made it easier for me because he could drop in, take a defender away and I could use that space to get in behind. We all know Josh’s ability in the Premier League and Ligue 1 in France, but he’s come with a pedigree and he’s an amazing player.
“Technically and physically, his finishing is something I really respect as well and I feel I’ve improved since he’s come in and I’ve told him that. Seeing how he moves, how he’s comfortable dropping in because I’m more inclined to get in behind than going short, but it’s beeen interesting seeing him close up and how he works.
“It’s really nice actually because we get on really well, and it’s well documented how close me and Daryl are so it’s nice having that strikers’ union off the pitch as well – that’s not forgetting Karlan Grant either. He’s obviously out on loan but he’s been here for years and he’s someone I can’t speak highly enough of as a person and a player.
“Having strikers who are all competitive but also supportive of each other stands the club in good stead, that we can take the bull by the horn by leading the team up the pitch, especially with us all having age on our side too. Me and Josh have been to dinner a few times and a few other boys too; it’s not easy when you move to a new club, because you might be in a hotel and that was only the case last year for me.
“Getting to do those things away from football early has helped to bed him in, build a connection and I like to think of us as friends too – it’s amazing to have that.”