Saido Berahino has shed nearly a stone since joining Stoke and has promised Mark Hughes he will have only one week off this summer as he tries to recapture his form.
For the 25th consecutive Premier League game, Berahino failed to find the net in the Potters’ 0-0 draw with West Ham on Saturday – a drought that extends back to February 2016 when he was still with West Brom.
His tumultuous spell there was ended by Stoke’s £12million acquisition in January yet the 23-year-old, who was ostracised at The Hawthorns, has had to battle back to fitness, dropping around six kilograms from what he weighed with the Baggies when he was sent to France for a conditioning programme having been deemed unfit.
“I’ve lost about six kilograms, six or seven,” Berahino said.
“It’s been very easy for me to shift that weight. The way my body is, when I’m playing, I trim down. When I’m not playing, I put on weight. I’ve got to blame my family for the genes they gave me.
“It’s just that I put on weight easily if I don’t move. If I don’t do exercise, my weight just goes up. That’s what happened at West Brom.”
With only three top-flight games left this season, Berahino will not have many more opportunities to play before the summer, yet he has assuaged fears he could soon be out of shape again by vowing to embark on a lengthy pre-season programme.
“It’s difficult when you’re not involved,” Potters boss Hughes added of Berahino.
“We know the circumstances at West Brom. He’s benefited from Premier League training day in, day out. He’s in a better place physically and mentally.
“Clearly, he’s playing games and enjoying it. There’s more to come from him. It will take time. He’s looking forward to next year – he’s telling me he’s going to have a week off and that’s it, he’s going to work all summer – that shows the attitude.
“It doesn’t surprise me. We’ve been really pleased with him. He’s trying to get back to what we know he’s capable of. He’s not there now and it’s frustrating for him. It plays on his mind – he wants to get off the mark. It’d be nice to get him on scoresheet before the end of the season – that would be perfect.”
While Hughes has been pleased with Berahino’s dedication to getting fit, Hammers boss Slaven Bilic has been frustrated by his own striker Andy Carroll’s injury problems.
The 28-year-old has been restricted to just 15 Premier League starts this term and a groin injury kept him out.
However, his manager wants him to declare his fitness for Friday’s crunch clash with Tottenham, when the Hammers could confirm their safety and seriously dent their rivals’ title bid.
“I don’t like to moan but I would be very disappointed if he is not involved in our next game,” Bilic said.
“You don’t have to play 90 minutes but if he is on the bench it gives you a lift because we are lacking that power at the moment. We will talk about (his injuries) after the season.
“It is not his way of life or that he is not professional. As far as I know he is very settled, he is very up for training. It looked at one stage of the season that he was okay. It was no coincidence that in that period we won six of nine. And then suddenly you are without him…”