20 July 2024

A West Bromwich Albion branded corner flag during the Premier League match  at the Hawthorns, West Bromwich. Picture date: Sunday February 14, 2021  Stock Photo - Alamy

Super Eagles defender Semi Ajayi has said he is looking forward to today’s training game in Spain after the frustration of three months out with an ankle injury.

West Bromwich Albion take on La Liga outfit Elche CF later today at their training base on the Costa Blanca.

The behind-closed-doors friendly could give Ajayi a first opportunity to show new manager Corberán what he can do in a match scenario, and the 29-year-old is determined to make a positive impression.

“I’m really looking forward to the game against Elche. I think it’ll be a great chance to put all the stuff we’ve been practising here in Spain to the test,” the defender said.

“The boys have been doing well under the new manager and won the last three games before the break. Once the Championship fixtures come back round I’ll be doing everything I can to get back in the team.

“It’s a chance for everyone to get minutes under their belts and impress the manager and I’m no different.”

The towering central defender has gone through a frustrating spell on the sidelines for the first time in his career and has missed the last three months of action having sustained an ankle injury at Wigan in August.

Ajayi returned to full training just before the break for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and is currently out in Spain with the rest of the senior squad who are completing a warm weather training camp.

And although the Nigeria international admits it’s been a really challenging period, Semi also stated he’s had a unique opportunity to analyse how the Baggies boss likes his team and his defenders to play.

Ajayi said: “I feel really good right now. It’s so nice to be back with the team and to be involved in training sessions once more.

“It was such a frustrating period for me, being out injured. I’ve never been injured in my whole career, which has been really fortunate, up until this season.

“I’ve never really missed a game, so to be out for as long as I have been has been really frustrating, especially when results weren’t going as well as everyone had hoped they would.

“I was itching to get back out there and help the boys, so to be available once again for selection is really pleasing. I can’t wait to get back out there.

“I’ve missed out on some of the manager’s early sessions and I feel like I’ve had to play a little bit of catch-up in terms of fitness for obvious reasons, but also when looking at the little bits of tactical information which he’s been delivering to the players.

“I’ve been studying the way he likes to play and how the boys have been playing since he came in while I’ve been out.

“Now that I’ve come back into training, I don’t feel like that transition has been too hard because I’ve been doing a lot of my own work to make sure I was ready to hit the ground running.”

He added: “We’ve had a really good week of work over here in Spain and I think we’ve all picked up lots of the information the boss and his coaching staff have been feeding us.

“He has lots of different ideas on how he wants us to play and different formations he believes can benefit us in certain situations.

“We’ve been learning it all both on the training pitches and by doing video sessions too. All of that work combined has left everyone singing off the same hymn sheet.

“Everyone is very aware of what is expected from them and that should stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.”

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