Part of the filming duties for the Albion players on their first day back from the summer break involved raising their head for two shots straight into the lens of the camera.

Pascal Gross opted for a beaming smile for the first, a more stern and moody look for the second.

It was not deliberate but the contrast reflected the German's two seasons so far with Albion.

He took the Premier League, if not by storm, then certainly by surprise in his debut campaign after signing from Ingolstadt.

Seven goals, eight assists and 36 chances from set pieces in 38 appearances helped Albion to 15th and earned him the player of the season award.

Last season was less successful for him and the side, with mitigation in Gross's case as he encountered the unfamiliar frustration of long spells on the sidelines.

Ankle ligament damage sustained against Fulham at the Amex in September was followed by a hamstring injury suffered setting up one of the many chances he has provided for Glenn Murray at Leicester in February.

It reduced his impact to three goals and three assists in 26 outings as Albion dropped two places to 17th, too close to the trapdoor for comfort.

Gross, fit and refreshed after returning home to Germany during the summer break, hopes the problems are behind him and that he can be as influential under new head coach Graham Potter as he was initially for Chris Hughton.

The Argus:

He said: "The last 13 games, when I was fit, I had two goals and three assists, so it was a little bit like my first season.

"However, before that I was struggling — injured in pre-season, fit for the season, but injured after four games for two months.

“It was the first injury in my life, the first time I missed a game in ten years of professional football. It was a new experience.

"Injury-wise, it was for sure my hardest season, but you learn from it. I have to look after my body even more, but I'm positive and always come back.

"Every game that I'm on the pitch, I can help the team. I was happy that I was able to help with some goals and assists towards the end, which helped the team stay in the Premier League."

Gross was not alone in being somewhat taken aback when Hughton was sacked the morning after the closing home defeat which clinched the title for Manchester City.

The bookmakers' odds rapidly indicated that Graham Potter would be the replacement picked by owner-chairman Tony Bloom.

Gross said: "It's a decision the club took and it was a little bit of a surprise, but that's what the chairman decided and I'm a player, so I have to do my job.

"I know that he (Potter) did an unbelievable job in Sweden — I have some Swedish friends, so they told me that he did a really good job there."

The role Potter has in mind for Gross remains to be seen. Injuries were not solely responsible for his statistical decline last season.

He was also used more often by Hughton in a deeper role. The 28-year-old's lack of pace is more than compensated for by endurance and his intelligent probing.

"I think I've played in every midfield position during my life," he said. "In the first Premier League season, it was the first time I consistently played in the number ten.

"I really enjoyed playing in the number eight last season, when we often played 4-3-3. Every position has something different, and as long as it's midfield and not goalkeeper or defender, I'm happy to play any position in midfield.

"I would like to show my quality with goals, assists and set-pieces. Creating chances is my game and that's what I’m working on.

"It worked really well in the first season and also worked at the end of last season. Glenn gave me an assist for the goal against Newcastle.

"We've had our first day back. The manager has to get to know us and we have to get to know him."

His boss may have changed but the target for the team is the same for Gross.

The Argus: "It was a difficult situation (last season) but I wasn't scared," he said. "As long as it was in our own hands, I was convinced we could do it. I knew they (Cardiff) had a more difficult situation because we had more points than them.

"We fought for a point at Wolves, not really attacking much, but we knew what situation we were in. In the end, we stayed up and that's the most important thing. Now everyone starts from zero.

"I think we have to collect points as quickly as possible, and then after we should sit together and think about the next target.

"If we can get to 40 points and still have games left, then you can think about different things, but first you have to start winning games and do what you need to stay in the Premier League."