STRIKER Craig Beattie is straining at the leash to get his chance to fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Ishmael Miller, West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray revealed.
The 24-year-old Scotland international was recalled from a loan spell at Crystal Palace after Miller ruptured the cruciate knee ligament in his right leg in the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth just over a week ago, and the former Celtic striker came on as a substitute in Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Sunderland.
Beattie looked surplus to requirements at The Hawthorns when he was sent to Selhurst Park, his second loan away from Albion after stint at Preston last season. But Mowbray had been left with just Roman Bednar, Luke Moore and the inexperienced Sherjill MacDonald as striking options, and decided Beattie had a role.
Albion are the Premier League’s lowest scorers with 12 from 17 games, and Bednar is the club’s top scorer with four, but the Czech Republic star, Moore and MacDonald have had little football.
Beattie has been a regular for the Eagles and scored five in 15.
“We brought Craig back because he is up and running,” Mowbray said. “He has scored a few and been playing week in, week out, unlike Luke and Roman who have not had much football.
“Yet it is a different level of football, with due respect to the Championship, we scored a lot of goals last season. He has scored five in 15 yet the Premiership is a different kettle of fish. He gives us a good option and it is down to him to compete with Luke and Roman.
“The thing I like about Craig is he is sat on the bench and I can feel his eyes searing into the back of my head because he wants to get on. That is a great attitude to have and he worked hard when he went on.”
Moore is the incumbent of Miller’s loan striker role and he endured a fruitless afternoon at The Stadium of Light. However, Mowbray looks set to give the former Aston Villa youngster another chance against Manchester City on Sunday.
“I think Luke Moore worked hard on Saturday,” Mowbray said. “It was a difficult situation. For the first 20 minutes when we had plenty of the ball, he looked sharp and a threat without having a shot on goal. It is a tough job but he worked hard. After the goals went in it became much harder.
“Luke has to have the encouragement to know he is going to get an opportunity over the next few weeks. He has to grasp that opportunity and try and get himself on the scoresheet over the next few games. I don’t think it will be through a lack of effort that it doesn’t happen.
“The three strikers we have are competing to play and when they are on the field they have to take the chance when it comes along.”
Mowbray has admitted he is considering making changes from the side that was heavily beaten at Sunderland for the visit of Manchester City.
He said: “After a 4-0 defeat, if I was a player on the periphery, I would be looking at the manager and asking ‘what is he going to do now?’
“Sometimes you need to give people opportunities, but I have always said to the players that I need to see something in training. I need to see a hunger and desire to show that they want to be in the team and not just going through the motions.”