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Chris Brunt challenges West Brom to emulate Sheffield United in Premier League

Albion are back in the top flight for next season.

Outgoing West Brom midfielder Chris Brunt says Sheffield United are the benchmark for the promoted sides to aspire to in next season's Premier League.

The Baggies secured their place in the top flight on Wednesday night with a 2-2 draw against QPR, as closest challengers Brentford were beaten at home by Barnsley.

Norwich have suffered instant relegation to the Championship while Aston Villa could join them after the final round of top-flight matches on Sunday, but Chris Wilder's Sheffield United sit eighth.

Brunt, who will leave the Hawthorns this summer after 13 years at the club, believes recruiting well was the key to promotion, and will be vital again to Albion's survival chances.

"We recruited well for this league, we brought some young players in who wanted to play in the Premier League and it's important the football club does that now to take that next step because the hard work starts now," he said.

"We'll be wanting to be a Premier League team for many years like we did before. It doesn't happen overnight, it's difficult, but recruitment is going to be a big part of it. The recruitment department I'm sure have been working away behind the scenes but obviously not knowing what division you're in until the last days doesn't help.

"If you look at the teams that have gone up last year, Norwich are struggling, Villa are struggling, Sheffield United are the ones that have done really well. The teams who are going up can take inspiration from that, hopefully we can do the same."

Brunt hailed the impact of manager Slaven Bilic, even though he has only been a bit-part player under the Croatian.

"He's a top manager," the Northern Irishman said.

"He's not picked me all season but that probably speaks volumes for him that I can sit here and say that he's done a great job.

"He's a decent guy, he's been good with me, every time I've spoken to him he's been honest. I respect him for the job he's done and for him as a person as well."

Brunt plans to take a holiday now before working out his next move.

He has been linked with a move to Stoke, who he was close to joining at the start of the year and who are managed by his former national team boss Michael O'Neill.

"I don't have a lot of information about it. It's a pretty obvious connection (with Stoke) from what happened in January and I've made no secret about how much I've enjoyed playing for the manager," he said.

"I haven't had any contact with anybody. No one is too sure what the lay of the land is after all the Covid stuff. Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll know a bit more."

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West Brom manager Slaven Bilic on June 20, 2020
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