Date: 14th August 2014 at 4:50pm
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Head coach Alan Irvine has said the predictions of Albion having a bad season can be used by the squad to motivate them to better things.

Bookies and pundits have already tipped Albion for another relegation battle this season, but Irvine wants us to be confident going into the season opener on Saturday against Sunderland and far from being upset with the predictions, Irvine told wba.co.uk that they would simply be a motivation tool for the players.

‘They get it wrong. The fact is it’s somebody’s opinion and they’re entitled to that opinion. It would be interesting to know whether they come out towards the end of the season and say ‘we got that one right but we got those ones wrong.’ I know the answer to that of course!’

Irvine goes on to say that he doesn’t read the newspaper or bother with social media and the like because it still takes him long enough to answer emails and texts but he does watch TV and given the season we had last year he knows people will be looking at us and thinking we are in for a struggle but he’s more confident than that.

‘It’s not a case of trying to bury my head in the sand but because I’m not surprised by what’s being said. They know what happened last season and the only thing that changes that is us getting the right results.’

Irvine says we can be preoccupied with what happened last season and listen to all the predictions of woe, or we can simply get on with the work and our preparation and in turn get the right results which changes around those thoughts – and for him the latter is what he’ll do.

One boost ahead of the opener is the news that Joleon Lescott is set for a return to full training next week, and obviously although that rules him out this weekend, if all goes well he shouldn’t be too far off but the gaffer has confirmed that we won’t be rushing him back and risking a longer term injury.

James Morrison will also miss the game as although he’s returned to training it will come too soon, but Gareth McAuley is in contention possibly.

‘It’s important that we make sure we bring Joleon back in at the right moment, he was desperate to get back in and make sure he was ready for the start of the season and probably, with hindsight, he came back a little bit too early. This time we’re being a little bit more cautious.’

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