WEST Bromwich Albion go into their clash with revitalised Cardiff City at The Hawthorns today knowing that victory will set them up nicely for a run of eminently winnable games between now and the end of February.
With five of their next eight games at home, Albion have the perfect opportunity to put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack of promotion-seeking predators waiting to pounce on any Baggies slip up.
The Bluebirds embarrassed Tony Mowbray`s men with a 4-2 League Cup scoreline at The Hawthorns back in September, though Albion fielded a very different side that night to the one likely to line up today.
The Welshmen suffered an indifferent run of form after that cup triumph, winning only one of their next nine games.
But manager Dave Jones, after surviving fans` demands for his dismissal, has turned their season round.
Cardiff are back in the promotion mix after collecting 13 points from their last five games to climb to within two points of the play-off places.
Albion boss Tony Mowbray says it’s a big weekend for his team.
He told the club’s official website: ‘Cardiff is a big game because there are other big games around us at the top of the division.
‘Watford play Charlton for instance so someone is going to drop points – maybe both of them.
‘We have to make sure we do our job.
‘We can’t affect other teams’ results but we know when close competitors are playing each other someone is going to drop points and it is important we don’t.’
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
Albion are likely to recall striker Kevin Phillips to partner the in-form Roman Bednar up front, while Robert Koren, Chris Brunt, Zoltan Gera, Filipe Teixeira, James Morrison and Jonathan Greening will contest the six midfield berths.
Martin Albrechtsen is likely to continue to deputise for the suspended Paul Robinson at left back.
Player to watch: Jonathan Greening
Jonathan continues to pull the strings in midfield for Albion in probably his best season at The Hawthorns.
Cardiff City Team News:
Striker Steve MacLean signed for Plymouth Argyle yesterday, so boss Dave Jones has to decide on a replacement for him in the squad. With Robbie Fowler out injured, possibly for the rest of the season, Jones still has Paul Parry, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Steve Thompson vying for a starting place.
Player to watch: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
The years may be taking their toll, but Jimmy is still a class act in front of goal.
Match Facts & Stats
Albion have the edge over Cardiff in head-to-head games, with 21 wins to Cardiff’s 15. There have been 11 draws between the sides.
FA Cup fourth round
Peterborough United v West Bromwich Albion
Saturday January 26th
Kick off: 3pm