This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Bromwich Albion enter the third international break of the season in a strong position, occupying that top spot in the Championship with a two-point cushion over the chasing pack of Preston North End and Leeds United.
Last time out, Slaven Bilic’s men secured a resolute 1-0 victory over Hull City to maintain their promotion push this season.
However, after this two-week hiatus, they will be hit with a devastating blow as both Jake Livermore, the goalscorer against his former club, and Romaine Sawyers will serve a one-game suspension when they host Sheffield Wednesday, who too are chasing a berth in the promised land, at the Hawthorns on the 23rd.
It leaves the Croatian with a colossal dilemma considering the lack of depth and options behind the midfield duo – they both had started every single game this campaign.
One option has to be Chris Brunt, who over the last few years, has made a slow transition from being a winger into a central option as he approaches his 35th birthday next month.
The Baggies stalwart played 31 games in the role, per Transfermarkt’s recorded matches, last term.
However, there’s still another spot up for grabs, and it’s that sparse that Bilic might as well pull a name out of the hat.
Benfica loanee Filip Krovinovic offers up another potential solution, but he’s mainly been preferred in the number ten role when Matheus Pereira hasn’t featured.
Had this occurred in a few weeks or even in a month, then Gareth Barry would be a more than viable temporary option, but the 38-year-old has only just re-signed for the club following an injury that nearly put pay to his career – he needs game time, quickly.
And then there’s the possibility of bringing Semi Ajayi out of defence as he has played in midfield for his old club Rotherham United, but that may not be the best decision considering Albion have picked up back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.
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But with an eventuality like this, Bilic must surely be rueing the decision to allow Sam Field to depart the club on loan this season as he would have been the most apparent backup behind these two this campaign.
He may be currently injured at Charlton Athletic, but that may not have necessarily happened if he stayed in the west Midlands.
The 21-year-old has featured in the Premier League for the club and is undoubtedly one of their most promising academy graduates, having been capped 12 times for the England U20 squad.
Oh, how West Brom could do with him right about now.