West Brom have been handed a double blow ahead of tonight’s crucial Midlands derby, the first of three matches against their nearby rivals…
Ahead of kick-off against third-placed Leicester City, Albion boss Sam Allardyce has revealed that he will be without the services of two Baggies stars, who have been ruled out through injury.
He told reporters (via BirminghamLive):
“We’re very good, the staff here in all areas have kept the squad virtually fully fit and that’s a great help to me when it comes to choosing systems and who we’re playing against.
“It’s just Robert Snodgrass and Kieran Gibbs who have slight injuries, not too bad, but they won’t be involved in the squad on Thursday night.”
On the former, he added: “The epidural is working, but not as quickly as we’d expected, so I would think that by the beginning of next weekend, he’d be fit to train and be selected.”
Despite both players being on the fringes lately, it will still come as a huge setback ahead of what is one of their biggest games of the season.
Snodgrass has endured a troublesome time at the Hawthorns since joining from West Ham as Big Sam’s first signing back in the January transfer window.
The 33-year-old veteran was expected to play a big role on the pitch, with his leadership, attitude and versatility all key reasons to why the 66-year-old wanted him signed up.
But injuries have hampered his playing time, though when the Scotsman has featured, he’s delivered. Snodgrass instantly came in and improved on Jake Livermore and Romaine Sawyers’ output in midfield by averaging 2.1 tackles per game, via WhoScored.
Snodgrass’ vast experience would be an added bonus in games like this, as well as the next two, so Allardyce will surely be gutted that he’s not available for selection – even despite back-to-back wins in his absence.
Gibbs, on the other hand, has been usurped in the pecking order by Conor Townsend and has not featured since the 2-2 draw with Fulham at the end of January.
Now losing the former Arsenal man isn’t as gutting but if Big Sam’s first-choice gets injured tonight, then they have no out-and-out left-back ready to step in and fill the void.
Putting square pegs in round holes is probably the last thing a side fighting for their lives needs to do, so the sooner Gibbs is back, the better.
The 31-year-old will leave the Hawthorns at the end of the season to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami side, ending a four-year stint at the Baggies.
Without the duo, West Brom do appear to be a little weaker than they’d like and Allardyce will surely be hoping that they do not pick up any more setbacks between now and the end of the season.
A win tonight would put them to within six points of safety, with four games left to play after that.