WEST Bromwich Albion have insisted that Jerome Thomas remains part of their first-team plans despite continued interest from Blackburn Rovers.

Thomas was due to join Rovers on a permanent basis on the final day of the January transfer window but they were unable to complete the deal before the deadline.

Michael Appleton, a former coach at Albion, has since been attempting to bring Thomas in on loan, reiterating his interest this week.

But, although not completely ruling out a temporary switch, West Brom assistant manager Keith Downing said the Baggies are likely to hang on to Thomas for now – even though the 29-year-old wide man was not in the squad for Saturday’s game with Sunderland.

Downing, assistant to Albion boss Steve Clarke, said: “Michael (Appleton) had the interest before the deadline day so he’s continuing that.

“We have a squad of 19, 20, 21 players at the very most, so from our point of view Jerome has been in and around it.

“He was out on Saturday as he was the 19th man but he was in the 18 at Liverpool and he played against Villa so he’s very much part of our plans here at this present time.

“It’s a decision for Steve (Clarke) but from the point of view of our squad size, Jerome is very much part of things here.

“Anything can happen over the next few weekends and you can be down to the bare bones.

“I wouldn’t say it's ‘highly unlikely’, as it’s Steve’s decision.

“But at the moment I would say Jerome is very much part of our squad, having had a part to play in recent times.”