West Bromwich Albion have been handed a boost ahead of their Midlands derby clash with Birmingham City. Grady Diangana returned to training this week and could potentially make the bench as The Baggies look to return to the top of the table.
Grady Diangana Back in Training as West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City Clash
Defensive Improvements and Dropped Points
West Brom have the chance to go back above Leeds United as they host local rivals Birmingham City at The Hawthorns on Saturday lunchtime. They currently find themselves one point adrift of Championship leaders Leeds United, who travel to Cardiff City on Sunday.
Slaven Bilić will be desperate to get his side back on track after their brilliant February form fell away as they picked up just one point from games against Wigan Athletic and Swansea City. Despite being the joint top scorers in the division, The Baggies failed to score in either game, claiming their first goalless draw of the season at the Liberty Stadium.
Albion have made big improvements defensively with their lack of clean sheets in the first half of the season being cause for concern. They’ve now shut the opposition out in five of their last eight as they look to squeeze every last point available to them from the final games of the season.
Blues Almost Safe
Birmingham City are unlikely to trouble the playoff places this season but Pep Clotet’s side have found something since the turn of the year that will see them safe from relegation. Before their 3-1 home defeat to Reading last time out, Blues had gone 10 games unbeaten, leaving them on the brink of safety.
Scott Hogan has been in scintillating form since joining on loan from rivals Aston Villa in January. The striker has bagged seven goals in eight games and has helped to drag Birmingham eight points clear of the bottom three. Many around the club now hold the belief that just two more wins from their remaining fixtures will see them safe.
Grady Diangana Fitness Boost
Grady Diangana’s return is a welcome boost for West Brom as they head into the final stretch of the season with eyes on the league title. The winger, on loan from West Ham United, has not played since January 4th when he picked up a hamstring injury in Albion’s defeat to Stoke City. His absence coinciding with his sides dip in form through January that saw their lead over third-place fall from 11 points to just four.
Five goals and five assists in his 21 appearances this season made Grady Diangana a key component in Albion’s early-season form that forced parent club West Ham United to consider recalling him in January to help ease their slide toward the relegation places. However, Diangana made clear his desire to remain at The Hawthorns with West Brom set to benefit from his talent in the remaining weeks of this campaign.
The next week of Championship fixtures could make or break the promotion push of the top four. Fulham and Brentford both face two sides currently inside the top four over the next week. They face each other on Friday before Fulham travel to Leeds in midweek whilst Brentford host West Brom.
This put more emphasis on West Brom’s weekend fixture against Birmingham as Slaven Bilić’s side will not be keen on collecting less than maximum points with Brentford on the horizon. Results of the next week will greatly affect the promotion picture, we could see Leeds and West Brom virtually cross the line but could just as easily see the pack close up.