West Brom boss Steve Bruce eagerly awaits Blues derby reunion

Steve Bruce (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Steve Bruce is no stranger to a footballing rivalry.

And it’s fair to say the 61-year-old is eager to lead Albion on the short trip to St Andrew’s tomorrow.

It’s a derby the Baggies need to win if they really want a chance of a top-six finish this season.

For Bruce, however, any trip to Birmingham brings back fond memories, with the boss spending two years there as a player and six as a manager. And he hopes he gets a positive reaction from the home crowd tomorrow.

“I will always enjoy going back, it was a good time for me,” he said.

“I’ve been in the game 40 years, almost 10 of them were with Birmingham.

“I like to come back and I’m sure it (the reaction) will be OK, but I’ll understand if it’s not.

“I look forward to the challenge. It’s two local clubs, they will want to fire us, that’s for sure. For us, it will be exactly the same.

There is debate among fans over whether the Blues game is a derby with Albion’s rivalry with Wolves and Villa fiercer.

But Bruce said it certainly looked like a derby when he played against the Baggies.

“I picked up one of the worst injuries I’ve ever had playing for the Blues against West Brom at the Hawthorns,” the boss recalled.

“Bob Taylor hit me with his knee and fractured my eye socket and broke my cheekbone.

“I think it was an accident but he left me in a good condition. I ended up in the hospital.”

Albion’s game against the Blues kicks off a series that sees them play three times in six days.

After the trip to St Andrew’s, they host Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Stoke then visits The Hawthorns next Saturday. But while Bruce stopped short of saying tomorrow’s game is a must, he admitted the Baggies need to win two of their next three to have any chance of making the playoffs.

“It’s a big week and we’ve been saying that for a while,” the manager continued. “But in silence, we are undefeated in four.

“We have to try to put two or three wins together. You have to find that consistency.

“But we are capable. It’ll be hard. St Andrew’s is a difficult place to visit.

“I’m not saying win, but it’s a big week, we have to win a few for sure.”

Albion will be without Daryl Dike, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a tendon problem. But they will have Andy Carroll available after missing the trip to Bristol City.

Sam Johnstone is also doing well after recovering from illness.

“Sam was sick but he’s fine now,” Bruce added.

“Andy Carroll has been training for the past two weeks, he’s been doing great, which is good news.”

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