West Bromwich Albion head into Friday night’s Championship clash having suffered their first league defeat of the season last time out, something from which Valerien Ismael will undoubtedly be hoping his Baggies side can immediately bounce back in the West Midlands derby against Birmingham City.
Despite having started the season in impressive fashion, the Blues now find themselves on a run of five league games without a win, so on paper at least, Ismael’s second-placed West Brom should not have much trouble in dispatching Lee Bowyer’s 16th-place side.
Will the 46-year-old make any changes to the team which started the defeat to Stoke City last time out? Here’s how we think West Brom could line up against Birmingham, along with the latest team and injury news…
With Ismael revealing that Alex Mowatt and Matt Clarke are both in contention to start tonight, we predict that the Frenchman will make two changes to the team which started in the 1-0 defeat at the bet365 Stadium.
The first of these sees the aforementioned Clarke thrown straight into the back three, which facilitates Conor Townsend’s return to a more natural position at left wing-back after filling in at centre-back in the past few weeks.
This means Adam Reach drop out of the side, with the left midfielder perhaps being a bit unfortunate to find himself on the bench after turning in a number of impressive performances while operating in an unfamiliar role in the past few weeks.
The remainder of the back five is untouched, with Sam Johnstone keeping his place in goal, Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi starting in the two remaining centre-back roles, as well as Darnell Furlong retaining his spot at right wing-back.
In the middle of the park, Mowatt once again starts alongside Jake Livermore, despite the initial worries that the 26-year-old had broken his foot in the loss to Stoke.
In the front three, after bagging five goals over his two appearances for the Republic of Ireland during the international break, Callum Robinson starts up top against Birmingham, with the £36k-per-week Jordan Hugill dropping out of the XI as the Norwich City loanee is still yet to score in his seven appearances for West Brom.
This sees the 23-year-old Grady Diangana come back into the team on the right wing, while Karlan Grant keeps his place on the opposite flank.