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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Brunt happy to win back fans

David Instone and Ian Edwards

Chris Brunt has spoken of his relief at having West Bromwich Albion's fans back on side - but refused to condemn those who turned on him in the defeat against Fulham earlier this month.

• Blog: Baggies show fighting spirit

Brunt was jeered when replaced in the home game on New Year's Day but is now firmly back in favour after inspiring the fightback in Saturday's thrilling 2-2 draw against Aston Villa.

The club captain's superbly taken goal at the start of the second half was his second in less than a month and launched a recovery that rescued a point from a highly unpromising position. It also confirmed his return to favour with the Baggies masses.

"It's part and parcel of football," he said. "It's nice to be applauded off but when you are playing in front of 25,000-30,000, it isn't an easy place to hide.

"It was disappointing to hear the reaction against Fulham but you take it on the chin and move on. That's one pretty bad moment in six years here, so I'm happy with that. It was a bad game all round and somebody had to take the flak. I am lucky to have this job but it just happens to be in the public eye."

The 28-year-old Northern Ireland international has become one of the 'constants' in recent weeks in a frequently changing Albion midfield.

With Youssouf Mulumbu at the African Nations Cup and Claudio Yacob suffering a shoulder injury on Saturday on his return from a hamstring problem, Steve Clarke has turned to the transfer-listed Graham Dorrans and rookie George Thorne to play alongside Brunt and one of the club's best players of 2012-13, James Morrison.

"Once we got our foot on the ball against Villa and moved it about, we looked a lot better," Brunt added. "With Claudio being a naturally defensive player, maybe it would be easier for me to play with someone like him, but me and Youssouf played together at QPR and did okay.

"If the gaffer's happy enough to put me there, I am happy and I've got a couple of goals and a few shots off. Two goals in a month - that's me in a hot streak!

"We've always had a good midfield here while I've been at the club. We're having a bit of a rocky spell and the last few weeks haven't been great but we're still seventh or eighth."

Brunt hopes Dorrans will rethink his plans to leave this month as a result of his return to the first team. The Scot has made it clear he is looking to be closer to his home country and to reignite a career that has stalled over the last couple of seasons because of a lack of Premier League action.

Dorrans has held talks with Clarke about his situation and has been told Albion will be prepared to sanction his move during the transfer window, as long as any deal is beneficial for both parties, although the boss would prefer to keep the midfielder.

"Everybody in the squad knows how good Graham Dorrans is. It's not really my place to say any more but he's a good lad, a top pro and that's all you can ask for," Brunt said. "He's been in and out of the side for the last couple of seasons and he'd like to be playing more regularly, but he's played the last couple of games and I know the gaffer has spoken about him playing more regularly."

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