Hegazi: West Bromwich Albion defender close to full fitness – Bilic

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Ahmed Hegazi - West Brom
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The Baggies boss is hoping the Egypt international will be available for their away game against Fulham next week

West Bromwich Albion manager Slaven Bilic has confirmed Ahmed Hegazi is close to fully recover from his injury.

The 28-year-old suffered an ankle injury towards the end of the 2018-19 season but played through the wound, featuring in 41 games.

Hegazi also featured for Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations in the summer before he had a surgery in July to prevent the recurrence of the injury.

Bilic is hoping to welcome the defender ahead of schedule when they take on Fulham in a Championship game on September 14.

“He’s very close to fitness. He’s like maybe a couple of weeks away, maybe by the Fulham game he will have joined the training,” Bilic told the club website.

“It wasn’t a long break but it was long enough. He played for Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations. But we’re delighted he will be back ahead of schedule.

“Of course, he will have to play a couple of games for the under-23s. It’s a big boost for us. We took a little risk not to get another centre-back because we lost a few, with loans and the Dawson situation.

“But we knew he was going to come back. We would have been short if one of the guys got injured or suspended but luckily enough it wasn’t the case.

“Now we have some good centre-backs. When Ahmed comes back we are going to be full in that area of the team. We are delighted, he’s a top player and he’s also a leader and we are happy he’s on the right path and close to coming back to the team.

“It’s not black and white as to when he will be back, we need to see him. We need to see how quickly he gets his sharpness. We need to see how he feels with his ankle.

“Tackling is a big part of his game. It’s one thing to do it in the gym without an opponent. I’m not being negative, his progress is still very open.

“I don’t know the date when he will come back - but knowing him and, to be fair, more hearing about him, he’s a warrior and a proper player. So I think it will be sooner rather than later.”

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In the absence of Hegazi, West Brow have been unbeaten in their opening six Championship games, winning three and drawing three.