WEST Bromwich Albion take on Charlton Athletic in what promises to be a real Christmas cracker of a ‘battle of the hot shots’ in front of the Sky cameras.
The two teams currently occupy the top two spots in the official Football League index of shooting stats.
In their 21 Championship games to date, Albion have registered 175 shots on target and 124 off, while Charlton have had 153 on and 142 off. Both teams have also hit the woodwork 12 times.
Charlton also top the Form Guide index, with 12 points from their last six games, with the Baggies back in fifth place with 11 points.
Manager Tony Mowbray has revealed that players returning from injury haven’t been shy in pushing their claim for a starting place on Saturday.
He told the club’s official website: ‘Some of them are ready, some aren’t. But they’re all training exceptionally well and looking bright as buttons.’
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray has some tough selection decisions to make ahead of Saturday`s ‘battle of the hot shots` with promotion rivals Charlton Athletic.
Paul Robinson and Bostjan Cesar have both completed their one-match suspension and he has seven first-team regulars all returning to fitness after recovering from knee injuries.
Mowbray is unlikely to want to risk bringing them all back at once, especially with the hectic Christmas programme just around the corner.
However, he will doubtless be keen to throw leading scorers Kevin Miller and Ishmael Miller back into the mix as soon as possible. The pair have bagged 17 goals between them in League games so far this season and they have been sorely missed in recent games.
Phillips seems the most advanced in his recovery and Mowbray may decided to partner him with Roman Bednar, who has netted four times in four games playing the lone striker role in the 4-5-1 formation Mowbray has adopted in the absence of his main strike force.
The manager also has to take into account the claims of defenders Shelton Martis and Pedro Pele, who were oustanding in the 2-1 victory at Leicester City last Saturday, and that of Craig Beattie who scored a peach of a goal to settle the game in Albion`s favour after coming on as a 73rd minute substitute.
Player to watch: Luke Steele
Dean Kiely’s broken toe gives the former Manchester United youngster the chance to claim the goalkeeper’s jersey for himself.
Charlton Athletic Team News:
Charlton manager Alan Pardew has the kind of selection problem that Tony Mowbray had to contend with at Leicester last weekend.
He has defenders Jonathan Fortune and Danny Mills and midfielder Lloyd Sam out suspended to add to long-term injury victims Grant Basey and Ben Thatcher, both defenders.
Pardew is also sweating on the fitness of former England international Chris Powell, who sustained a head injury near the end of the 3-1 win over Ipswich Town last weekend. Concussion was diagnosed and it`s touch and go whether Powell will have fully recovered in time.
Almost certain to line-up in the centre of the Addicks is Sam Sodje, who followed his loan spell at The Hawthorns last term with a season`s loan move to The Valley.
Player to watch: Chris Iwelumo
The 30-year-old free-transfer signing from Colchester United is spearheading Charlton’s promotion push with eight goals in 19 appearances.
Match Facts & Stats
Charlton hold a slight advantage in head-to-head meetings between the two clubs since they first met in an FA Cup tie way back in 1923, Charlton winning 1-0.
Albion have claimed 19 wins to Charlton’s 21 with 15 matches drawn.
Mr P Taylor (Hertfordshire)
Mr Taylor has been a busy man with the yellow cards this season, showing 54 in 18 games, together with two red cards.
Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion
Britannia Stadium, Saturday December 22nd