WEST Bromwich Albion face another searching examination of their promotion credentials when they entertain in-form Burnley at The Hawthorns today.
The Lancashire side, under new manager Owen Coyle, have won their last three league games to edge their way back into the promotion mix.
Albion will be looking to bounce back from the disappointing defeat at Preston on Tuesday and will have the luxury of choosing from an almost fully-fit squad, with only permanently-signed £900,000 striker Ishmael Miller definitely out.
The Baggies are unlikely to want to risk either of their other two new signings, goalkeeper Michal Danek and midfielder Kim Do-Heon, in such an important game.
Manager Tony Mowbray hopes to have Kevin Phillips back in his starting line-up, but will leave it to the Championship`s leading scorer to decide himself if he`s fit enough for action.
Burnley boss Owen Coyle has a number of injuries to contend with and may be forced into fielding new signings Andy Cole and Mark Randall, though he has plenty of experience in his squad, including former Albion keeper Brian Jensen and midfielder James O`Connor. Stanislav Varga, who made four appearances for the Baggies on loan from Sunderland back in 2002, is also in the Clarets squad.
Albion boss Tony Mowbray, who knows well his opposite number Owen Coyle from their days in Scotland at Hibernian and St Johnstone respectively, told the club’s official website: ‘Owen preaches attacking football and likes his players to pass it and play an aggressive, attacking style.
‘He’s a very enthusiastic guy who loves the game. I hope he does well – but obviously not too well this weekend!
‘We want to get back to winning ways.’
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
With the exception of Ishmael Miller, Tony Mowbray has a full squad to choose from.
Mowbray has said before that some players are carrying minor but niggling injuries, so his final choice will inevitably be influenced by the news from the treatment table.
There will be the usual selection dilemma in the centre of defence, with the rest of the line-up being determined by the availability of Kevin Phillips.
No Phillips and we may well see the 4-4-1-1 formation again.
West Bromwich Albion (from): Kiely, Steele, Danek, Hoefkens, Albrechtsen, Barnett, Pele, Cesar, Robinson; Gera, Greening, Koren, Morrison, Kim, Filipe Teixeira, Brunt, Bednar, Phillips, Beattie, MacDonald.
Player to watch: Robert Koren
The Slovenian international has been Mr Consistent in midfield this season. He has an excellent engine and has added to his all-round game by notching up seven goals so far.
Burnley Team News:
Burnley’s much-admired striker Kyle Laffert serves the last of a four-match ban.
Stanislav Varga, has recently had his loan deal extended and will probably cover for defender Clark Carlisle, who has been sidelined by a hamstring strain for nearly a month.
Midfielder Alan Mahon and striker Steve Jones are also missing with long-term injuries.
Burnley (from): Jensen, Kiraly, Spicer, Alexander, Varga, Unsworth, Harley, Elliott, O`Connor, Gudjonsson, McCann, Blake, Akinbiyi, Randall, Cole, Jordan, Caldwell.
Player to watch: Andy Cole
The veteran England striker is expected to make his debut for the Turf Moor outfit after his loan move from Sunderland.
Match Facts & Stats
Albion have the upper hand in the 122 meetings between the two clubs dating back to 1888.
The Baggies have chalked up 52 victories to Burnley’s 44 and there have been 26 draws.
Barnsley v West Bromwich Albion
Saturday February 9th, Oakwell Stadium
Kick off: 3pm