What will the summer bring for West Brom?

Posted by Matthew Evans

Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesThe controversial Peter Odemwingie is not expected to be back with the Baggies next season.

With Manchester City's involvement in the FA Cup semifinals, West Brom are without a game this weekend. With no game to focus on this weekend, attention seems to have shifted towards West Brom's plans for next season.

Albion aren't going to go out on a mass spending spree, as has been proven by the past two summer transfer windows. Only two players have been brought for fees during these windows -- Shane Long and Ben Foster -- who are now regarded as key players in the Albion set up.

- West Brom hoping to keep Brown
- Olsson wants Baggies to push on

The focus in transfer windows have mainly been on the wage bill, which has seen a steady increase over the Premier League seasons as higher earners join the club and players who have impressed are rewarded with new deals. The upcoming transfer window will be one of great significance for Albion, and Baggies fans should brace themselves for what could be an interesting signing.

It is likely that there will be a big turnover in players at the club. Contracts are coming to an end and there are obvious issues with other players. It is definitely going to be a baptism of fire for Richard Garlick, West Brom's sporting and technical director who has taken over full time now Dan Ashworth has departed for the FA.

Defence

The goalkeeping positions at West Brom are sorted. Foster is the established number one at the club. Boaz Myhill has recently signed a new contract and is an experienced Premier League goalkeeper, while third-choice Luke Daniels has also put pen to paper on a new deal. The defence does have some issues that need resolving, particularly in the right back area. It seems that Billy Jones is the only right back whose future is guaranteed at the club. The former Preston fullback has performed really well in the last few games and in general has improved greatly on last season's displays.

Steven Reid needs to play a certain amount of games in order to automatically invoke the clause for a new one year deal. Even if Reid doesn't play this amount of games, the club may still offer him a new deal. Despite this, I feel that the Baggies will need to bring in a first choice right back. Despite Jones' improvement, I'm not sure he is quite at the level to be a permanent first choice. The third right back, Gonzalo Jara Reyes, should leave at the end of the season.

Albion are in contract talks with Gareth McAuley and should these talks go well, it will mean that West Brom will have their first choice centre half pairing tied down to the club for the foreseeable future. There is also the impressive young centre half Craig Dawson waiting in the wings, while Gabriel Tamas is also in contract talks with the club and the Romanian international is a more than capable backup. In the left back role, West Brom have the option to make the signing of Goran Popov permanent for a pre-arranged fee and I expect The Baggies to take up that option.

Midfield

This is one area that certainly needs strengthening, highlighted by West Brom's plight when certain players are absent. Claudio Yacob and Youssuff Mulumbu are probably one of the most underrated central midfield partnerships in the Premier League and Albion are much weaker when one of these two is absent. George Thorne is a promising youngster but a severe injury to his cruciate ligaments could have a permanent impact on his development, although hopefully he will come back stronger than ever.

Despite this, West Brom definitely need to bring in a player capable of stepping into one of the defensive midfield roles. The Baggies have tried Chris Brunt and James Morrison there but neither has been successful and they are much better in their natural roles.

Morrison and Brunt will definitely stay at the club. The two are established Premier League performers and in Morrison's case, he has been outstanding for most of the season in the role behind the striker. But the rest of the midfield's future is up in the air. Jerome Thomas looks likely to leave the club when his contract expires; Zoltan Gera's contract also expires in the summer and it remains to be seen whether Gera will be able to return following a second serious injury in two seasons. Graham Dorrans was expected to leave in the January window but has put in some impressive displays since then; however his future is still very much up in the air. Another player who will almost definitely leave the club is Peter Odemwingie, for obvious reasons.

This means West Brom will need to bring in a minimum of one wide player, and as it was already a position that they wanted to strengthen in, it could mean that two wide players are brought in. Being greedy, Albion could do with somebody to compete with Morrison for the advanced midfield role.

Strikers

This is the area of most concern for Baggies fans and the one that will give them the most worry over the summer. It is also the one area where transfers will probably drag out, in particular the future of top-scorer Romelu Lukaku. The big Belgian has scored 13 goals this season and I don’t expect many Albion fans thought he would become such a key player. The issue has always been that he is only on loan. With his success at the club, it means that Chelsea will either want him back at the club, or if he goes out on loan again, more clubs will be interested. Reports suggest Lukaku would like to play in a side competing in European competition and has already been linked with Swansea. Despite the bond he has formed with fans at the Hawthorns, it remains to be seen whether he will be at the club next season.

Markus Rosenberg has had very limited game time and is expected to leave in the summer, as is Marc Antoine Fortune. That means the only striker whose future is really confirmed at West Brom is Shane Long, who is in contract talks with the club. Albion will need to bring in two strikers in this window, whether that includes Lukaku remains to be seen.

ESPN Conversations