Nigerian defender, Semi Ajayi, sustained a knee injury in August and signs showed that the 28-year-old was set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines and now, reports indicate his estimated return date is to be just before the World Cup in November at Qatar.
The defender underwent a scan on after limping off in the first half of the Baggies’ 1-1 draw at Wigan in the Championship last month, having made an error for the Latics’ opener at the DW Stadium.
Ajayi has impressed overall for the Baggies this term but Bruce is now prepared for the worst on the defender’s prognosis, after revealing that the Nigeria international hurt his knee and ankle in an innocuous incident with no Wigan player close to him.
Ajayi went to the ground with nobody near him at Wigan and was withdrawn after just 20 minutes. Scans confirmed that he’d badly twisted his ankle
Bruce said, “He’s got an ankle injury. I don’t want to put a timescale on it. He’ll certainly miss a few weeks,” Bruce said. “That’s certain. We’re unfortunate, what can you do? He’s twisted his ankle badly. These things happen. It’s him now and Dike.
“The games are coming thick and fast and there lies another one – we’ve unfortunately lost a big player. His knee is okay. Whether it was nerve damage from the ankle, we’ve scanned them both. He’s gonna be a few weeks. It’s ligament damage.
“He’s badly twisted his ankle, we’ve got to be patient but it’ll be a few weeks. He’s a tough lad because he did the injury in the incident before their goal. He played on for 20 minutes, that was a strange one.”
Bruce said Ajayi had been arguably the team’s best player since he took over in February, following the departure of Valerien Ismael.
“I believe he has all the attributes needed to be a Premier League defender in terms of what we want to do and the rebuild which needs to happen,” the manager added.
The 28-year-old joined the Baggies from Rotherham United in 2019 and has played 117 games for the club, scoring nine times.
In May, Ajayi signed a contract extension tying him to the club until the summer of 2025.
“The talks have been going on for a very long time, so I’m glad we’ve finally got it all sorted,” Ajayi told the club’s website.
“I can now look forward to next (this) season and doing my best to try and help this club get back to the Premier League.”
Depending on the speed in which he recovers, Ajayi is expected to return before the World Cup break.