With Valerien Ismael’s West Bromwich Albion side heading into Friday night’s Championship clash as the league leaders following a highly impressive 4-0 win at Cardiff in midweek, the Frenchman will undoubtedly be hoping for another positive result and performance from the Baggies against Stoke City.
However, with the Potters also currently on a run of fine form, having suffered just one defeat in their last five league fixtures, Albion leaving the bet365 Stadium with all three points is by no means a certainty, with Ismael needing to get his starting XI spot-on in order to give his side the best possible chance of a win over Michael O’Neill’s men.
Will the 45-year-old make any changes to the team which started in the demolition of Cardiff City last time out? Here’s how we think West Brom could line up against Stoke, along with the latest team and injury news…
With Ismael confirming that both Matt Clarke and Robert Snodgrass are available for selection against Stoke, as the duo have recovered from their respective injuries, the Frenchman is provided with many more possibilities with his starting XI tonight.
With this in mind, we predict that the 45-year-old will make three changes to the team which lined up against Cardiff on Tuesday.
At the back, the early return of the £2.7m-rated Clarke is undoubtedly a huge boost for the Baggies, as the Brighton & Hove Albion loanee has impressed over his three Championship appearances so far this season, averaging a SofaScore match rating of 7.03.
As such, the defender immediately regains his spot in Ismael’s back three, with Conor Townsend – who has been filling in on the left-hand side of the centre-back trio – reverting to his natural position at left wing-back.
This move sees the £23k-per-week Adam Reach drop out of the starting XI, with the 28-year-old perhaps being unfortunate if he has make do with a spot on the bench after an impressive display against the Bluebirds.
In the middle of the park, despite being the West Brom club captain, we predict that Jake Livermore will make way for another Brighton loanee in the shape of Jayson Molumby, as the 31-year-old skipper has been in rather poor form in the club’s recent fixtures.
Meanwhile, despite Snodgrass’ return to fitness, the Scotland international may have to make do with a seat among the substitutes, with the 23-year-old Grady Diangana being restored to the starting XI on the right-hand side of the Baggies’ attacking trio. That switch sees Callum Robinson move into the role of centre-forward and Jordan Hugill – who is yet to score in six Championship appearances for Albion – drop out of the team.