The return of Kieran Gibbs from injury is a “massive” boost for West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds United and Middlesbrough striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that having someone of the 30-year-old’s experience and quality could make a significant difference this season.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s clash against Nottingham Forest, Bilic confirmed that Gibbs had stepped up his recovery on the training ground, having played 45 minutes for the under-23 side on Monday.

Whelan says that Gibbs’ experience of playing in high-pressure scenarios will be “invaluable”, although admits that as a Leeds fan he wishes he was not coming back to fitness.

Whelan told Football Insider: “What a great acquisition to have coming into the back end of the season, someone with that amount of quality, somebody that you know can push into that position.

“Premier League experience, international experience, a lad that’s probably going to be good in and around the changing room as well and more competition for places. It’s not just young lads pushing for places, it’s quality pushing for places.

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“It’s invaluable when you come to this crunch stage of a season when the pressure’s on, he’s played in high-pressure games. That’s a massive plus for Slaven Bilic and the West Brom side. 

“I wish it wasn’t happening but it is!”

Gibbs has played just 10 times for Bilic this season, injury meaning he has sat out the last six games for the Baggies.

Conor Townsend has performed admirably at left-back in his absence, the 26-year-old starting six of the last seven matches.

In other West Brom news, Paul Robinson has been drooling over one star man who is having the “best season ever”.