West Bromwich Albion head into their opening fixture of the new Championship season with a few unknowns still hanging over Valerien Ismael’s squad.
Firstly, the future of Matheus Pereira remains up in the air, although it has been recently reported that the winger could be set to secure a move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal in the not too distant future.
However, the Brazilian has not played a part in Albion’s pre-season fixtures, nor has he been training with the squad, so the uncertainty surrounding the 25-year-old does not seem to affect the team directly, but more so in terms of their incoming transfer business.
Indeed, with it being reported that Albion are demanding a figure in the region of £25m in order to sanction the 25-year-old’s sale, this sum would help Ismael to plug a number of gaps in his West Brom squad, with the 45-year-old lacking depth at left-back, in central midfield and up front.
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With that in mind, we take a look at how the Baggies could line up against Bournemouth on Friday evening, along with the latest team and injury news…
With Ismael confirming that he will be without the trio of Adam Reach, Quevin Castro and Taylor Gardner-Hickman for the trip to the Vitality Stadium, the team is not overly changed from the one which defeated Birmingham City 4-0 in their final pre-season friendly last weekend.
However, with Phillips impressing in the number nine role in pre-season, the 30-year-old gets the nod to start the game up top following his self-isolation, with Karlan Grant moving onto the left-hand side of attack – a position which allows the forward to cut in on his favoured right foot – while Callum Robinson drops to the bench.
New signing Matt Clarke does not make the starting XI, while Sam Johnstone could be set to begin the clash between the sticks, after Ismael praised the £30k-per-week goalkeeper’s attitude in training amid reports suggesting that the 28-year-old could be moving onto pastures new this summer.
Meanwhile, in terms of shape, the new 3-4-3/3-4-2-1 system will undoubtedly take time for the Albion players to become familiarised, but Ismael will nevertheless be hoping for a positive result in his first competitive game in charge of the club.