LEONARDO Ulloa has vowed to live up to the expectations of Albion supporters in his first taste of English football.
The Seagulls have ended their 18-month search for a target man by signing Ulloa from Spanish club Almeria for around £2 million.
The wait for a replacement since the club were priced out, in wage terms, of retaining the services of Crystal Palace marksman Glenn Murray has heightened the focus on Ulloa.
The 26-year-old Argentinian revealed: “I am ready to match the expectations. It is going to take me a while but I think soon I am going to be ready. I’m going to be helping the team and repaying the trust the club and the manager have put in me.”
Ulloa trained for the first time at The Amex on Wednesday and goes straight into the squad for tomorrow’s trip to Birmingham, where he is likely to be on the bench providing Albion receive international clearance by today’s noon deadline.
He admits it may take time to adjust to the cold weather and the Championship but is grateful to be part of Albion’s future under Gus Poyet after agreeing a four-and-a-half year contract.
“My first training was difficult, very cold,” he said. “I think off the pitch I am going to adapt to the cold better than on the pitch but soon I am going to be fine with it.
“I haven’t watched much of the Championship, a few games, but I can tell it is very physical and it is going to be very competitive.
“I think it’s going to be a difficult league to play in but I think I am going to adapt as soon as possible and be ready to play.
“I am very glad to be here and very thankful to the club that they want me. Gus really helped to make my decision. He told me what his aims are for the club and I feel part of the project.”
Poyet believes Ulloa can live up to his billing. He said: “We checked a lot about his character. He wants to keep improving and play at the highest level. If it’s with us great, if not then he needs to get there by himself and that means he needs to perform.
“The hunger and that mentality to keep improving and proving himself is there, which is great for the club.”
Ulloa is guaranteed a swift full debut. Albion, fresh from a hat-trick of victories to kick-off 2013, follow the Birmingham game with a visit to Blackburn on Tuesday and are then at home to Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup a week tomorrow.
Poyet said: “Sometimes the sooner the better. He is a little bit unlucky, because he has come to the club when we have won three in a row and we haven’t done that for a while, so other players have been doing well, but we will manage it the best way we can.
“We have got three unbelievable games coming up and I think it’s a great opportunity to use the squad in the right way.”