Five West Brom players who could partner Alex Mowatt at Coventry

Depleted and out of form, West Bromwich Albion could really do with a lift this weekend – at the home of one of their Midlands – and play-off – rivals.

There’d be no better time to remind the Championship that they mean business than this weekend, when they make the relatively short trip to Coventry City, who have been on fire under Mark Robins this season.

The Sky Blues could follow in Queens Park Rangers’ footsteps and overtake Albion in the league table with a victory of their own, so a positive result is key on more than one front for the Baggies, who will be backed by 4,500 away supporters.

Injuries and suspensions have stretched Albion’s already skinny squad, though. They have seven senior players missing, through various set-backs or bans – and it majorly affects the midfield.

Jayson Molumby and Jake Livermore are suspended. Robert Snodgrass, who hasn’t been playing anyway, is deemed to have picked up a back injury. It leaves Alex Mowatt all alone as the only available central midfielder, and even he is having to navigate his way back to full fitness carefully after missing a month of football recently.

With Matt Phillips, who has experience in central midfield, also injured, who does Valerien Ismael turn to to partner Mowatt with? There are no natural replacements, so whoever does fill in will be playing in a role that is not their primary position.

The midfield

Ismael likes balance. He has an idea in mind as to who he could turn to, though he wasn’t giving much away in his pre-match press conference on Friday.

Adam Reach filled in after Molumby’s red card last week, though both he and Mowatt are left footed. Then there is Darnell Furlong , who came on at Huddersfield following the sending off of Jake Livermore. Usually a right wing-back, Ismael does the have option of shifting Furlong inside and bringing Taylor Gardner-Hickman back into the starting XI.

Another who has more comprehensive midfield experience is Semi Ajayi ; he played in the middle regularly at Rotherham, but you could count on one hand the amount of times that he has filled in there while at Albion – the win over Sheffield Wednesday in 2019 and the FA Cup defeat at Blackpool last season spring to mind.

Elsewhere, Ismael could dip into the 23s. They have been playing in a 3-4-3 system all season to ensure that they’re ready to fit like a glove if ever they were called upon from above. Jamie Andrews and Quevin Castro are the two next cabs off the rank.

Up top

Without Phillips, five into three becomes four into three.

Grady Diangana on the right and Karlan Grant on the left are both likely to keep their places, so it’ll be a case of selecting who will lead the line – Callum Robinson or Jordan Hugill.

It’s clear that Albion need an attacking reinforcement in the January transfer window but for now Ismael must go with the options at his disposal.

Also likely to be involved in the match-day squad once again is winger Tom Fellows, while teenage hot-shot Reyes Cleary has also been training with the first-team squad in recent weeks and could feature in the 18 with so many senior options unavailable.

Predicted XI

Johnstone; Gardner-Hickman, Kipre, Bartley, Clarke, Townsend; Furlong, Mowatt, Diangana, Grant, Robinson

What do you think Albion need in the January transfer window? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…

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