March 9, 2013
Fitness boost for Baggies
Team Stat Comparison
|West Bromwich Albion||Swansea City|
|Goals for *||1.7||1.0|
|Goals against *||1.3||1.3|
|Last 5 home||D-L-D-L-W||L-D-D-L-L|
|Last 5 away||L-L-W-L-D||L-W-L-D-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: West Bromwich Albion | Swansea City|
West Brom will welcome back a trio of players in skipper Chris Brunt, on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku and left-back Goran Popov for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Swansea tomorrow.
Midfielder Brunt has recovered from the ankle injury which kept him out of the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea last weekend while Lukaku was ineligible to play against his parent club.
Popov has served a three-game ban for his red card after spitting at Tottenham defender Kyle Walker. Striker Shane Long is the Baggies main injury worry with a recurrence of an ankle injury.
Steve Clarke has challenged his side to ensure the season does not fizzle out and also to strive to emulate the Capital One Cup success of Swansea during the 2013-2014 campaign.
The Baggies and the Swans have both occupied a spot in the top half of the Barclays Premier League for most of the campaign and are currently only separated by goal difference.
But Michael Laudrup's side have earned most of the plaudits for their cup triumph and Clarke feels it is a realistic goal for Albion to try to achieve next season.
He said: "We've been neck and neck all season with Swansea in the league. They also managed to put together a cup run. We had hoped we would do so this year, but didn't manage to do it.
"Hopefully that will give us a target for next year because you have seen the sort of accolades Swansea have received.
"They get all the headlines and deservedly so, because they have managed to win one of the few domestic trophies around - and that's what we have to aim for here at Albion.''
Midfielder Kemy Agustien will miss Swansea's trip to West Brom after suffering a thigh injury.
The Dutchman joins defender Chico Flores on the sidelines, as the Spaniard is still a few weeks away from returning from ruptured ankle ligaments.
Garry Monk deputised for Flores against Newcastle last weekend, while manager Michael Laudrup must mull over whether to again start with Pablo Hernandez, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge in behind top scorer Michu.
Wayne Routledge believes West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster more than deserves an England recall as Swansea prepare to face the Baggies at The Hawthorns.
Foster recently ended his self-imposed international exile, two years after calling time on his England career, and is set to earn a place in Roy Hodgson's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and San Marino.
Foster's recent performances for the Baggies have been excellent and he is even being tipped in some quarters to usurp Manchester City's Joe Hart as England's number one.
Routledge knows just how big a barrier the former Manchester United and Birmingham man will be to Swansea's hopes of victory.
He said: "He is a very good keeper, some of the saves he made against Chelsea the other day were just world class.
"He is more than capable of performances like that and he is up there with the best, he is a top quality goalkeeper.
"If he wants to go back to play for England he more than deserves a place in that squad.
"We know it is going to be very tough this weekend. They have played some good football at home, we got a few early goals when we beat them here but this will be very different.
"We are in a battle against each other in the league, so it would be nice to come away with something.''