After scoring his first goal in over a year, American striker Daryl Dike has revealed just how tough his road back to fitness has been.

Dike joined Championship outfit West Bromwich Albion from Orlando City in January in a deal worth $9.5m. However, since then, the forward has been restricted to just five appearances due to a series of hamstring and thigh injuries.

In his latest outing on Monday, Dike delivered an 82nd-minute strike as West Brom came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1, lifting the Baggies out of the Championship relegation zone.

It was Dike’s first goal since finding the net in Orlando City’s MLS Cup Playoffs defeat to Nashville SC back in November 2021, and one that came with equal parts relief and perspective.

“You’re scared to get back on the pitch, thinking ‘am I going to get injured again? Am I ever going to be the same again?’,” Dike told the BBC of his road to recovery.

“But the Albion staff have worked with me and given me the courage to go around and do things to full strength without worrying, and proving to myself I can still go on the pitch and do the same things I used to do.”

Getting Dike back on the pitch has been a team effort involving West Brom’s medical staff, those close to the player, and his own mental fortitude. The eight-time United States international is definitely stronger for his troubles and is now looking to put everything behind him to focus on contributing for West Brom.

“I’ve had the support of a lot of people,” he said.

“I’m not going to say I’m happy that it [the injuries] happened but it’s something I’ve learned from. I’ve learnt about my body. I’ve learnt about me, physically and mentally. It’s taught me a lot. It’s something I can carry forward on and off the pitch.

“It was so cold and you know there are a lot of people at home, keeping warm, watching on TV – but it’s great to have the fans with us, always pushing us. To have them there behind you is a great feeling. The one thing Carlos talks about is ‘never giving up, never giving in’. And we showed that resilience and the togetherness of the squad.

“Getting a win was important but, from a personal point of view, to get on the scoresheet was something I have now got off my shoulders.

“All I’ve tried to do throughout all this time is just get on the pitch and make an impact – and now I’ve finally managed to do that.”

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