Glenn Murray used to give a simple answer when asked the biggest reason for his continued goalscoring prowess in the top flight.

“Pascal Gross,” he would reply with a smile during the 2017-18 season.

Gross was perhaps the success of that season in terms of individuals.

Seven league goals and eight assists helped him to player of the year honours and a new contract (until June 2022).

It wasn’t just the numbers. It was when the magic touches came.

Albion’s first (and second) goals in the Premier League, versus West Brom. The winner at home to Manchester United.

Dipping and curling assists for Murray for both the opening goal on a great night at West Ham and the winner at home to Arsenal.

That was all while operating as a No.10 behind Murray in the system Chris Hughton had adapted from 4-4-2 to 4-4-1-1 as part of the transition from Championship to Prem.

It remains Gross’s most prominent season in the Premier League.

There have been high profile signings since then and the German has slipped off the radar a little.

He is not spoken about anywhere near as much as Adam Lallana or Danny Welbeck or Tariq Lamptey these days.

The Argus:

Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray had a great understanding

But, quietly, the £3m bargain signing from Ingolstadt has returned to the spotlight and the brink of a major personal landmark.

He has started the last two games and is now on 99 Prem appearances for the club, of which 83 have been starts.

It is a tally he has been talking about with German media.

“That is a proud number. My father said to me that when you reach this number, you are a seasoned player,” he told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper.

“I am very happy with this label. And since I played most of these games from the start, I think that I also prevailed.

“It’s a special game for me, but I haven’t really planned anything for it.

“I’m always working on what I can do better because football is also developing.”

Gross laid on Albion’s most recent goal, with a typically aware piece of work to commit defenders and supply Lamptey at Tottenham.

It was his 16th assist in the Premier League, season-by-season tallies reading eight, three, four and now one.

(He has 12 goals, season-by-season going seven, three, two and none so far this term).

The Argus:

Gross is also the only player any Albion fans have seen score a goal in the last nine months thanks to his penalty in the Chelsea friendly.

The talk has always been how clever an operator he is.

The question asked is how good he would have been with another yard or two if pace.

The answer is probably: Too good to have only cost £3 million.

There were a couple of costly occasions when he was caught out defensively when Hughton changed to 4-3-3 nearly two years ago. But on the ball he remains an artist at work.

He doesn’t turn 30 until next summer and will never lose his pace.

READ MORE: Potter loves Lamptey's fearless style 

And, anyway, sometimes speed of thought deliciously outwits speed of movement.

That is why the prospect of him playing alongside Lallana is such an appealing one if and when both can be accommodated in the XI. That has happened in the last two matches.

The expected absence of Leandro Trossard and Alexis Mac Allister increases the chances it could be repeated at Villa.

But his participation can by no means be taken for granted these days – and Gross says he can live with that.

He said: “The club has brought in a lot of newcomers and tried to develop with young players.

“There is a lot of competitive pressure. You just have to stay on the ball and fight your way back.

“Every game is difficult and at a high level.

“Even the less ambitious clubs have top players in their ranks.”