Writer: Kris Tipton
Date:Wednesday December 26 2007
Wednesday December 26th
FOR the second Hawthorns game on the trot, second-placed West Bromwich Albion entertain the Championship`s third-placed team, this time in the shape of Bristol City.
And Albion will be hoping for a similar outcome to their last home outing when a 4-2 victory over Charlton Athletic 11 days ago sent them to the top of the table.
The Boxing Day clash promises to be played out in front of a full house and both teams will have the luxury of choosing from near fully-fit squads.
And that means both managers will have spent their Christmases pondering their selection options.
City manager Gary Johnson probably has the easier task, though he must decide whether to give striker Darren Byfield, who is developing a habit of scoring last-minute winners, a place in his starting line-up.
The Robins are one of the form teams in the Championship at the moment, with four wins and two draws from their last six games, a record bettered only by Albion`s last opponents, Stoke City, with five wins and a draw.
The Baggies on the other hand have lost two of the last six games, during which, worryingly, they have conceded 12 goals.
Wholesale injuries decimated the defensive roster but those concerns have passed and manager Tony Mowbray is likely to make some changes at the back following Saturday`s 3-1 defeat at Stoke.
Martin Albrechtsen certainly stiffened up the defence when he came on as a substitute for the last 25 minutes at the Britannia Stadium and should regain his place in the starting line-up.
Midfielder James Morrison was on the bench at Stoke but will be pushing for a place today.
As will returning strikers Kevin Phillips and Ishmael Miller, who will be competing for a start with Czech loanee Roman Bednar, whose six goals in the last six games have quickly endeared him to the Baggies faithful.
Mowbray`s other big decision centres around the formation, whether to stick with the 4-4-1-1 employed recently o
Bristol City manager Gary Johnson told the club`s official website that his players wouldn`t be overawed at The Hawthorns. Of the Albion`s recent dip in form he said: 'They`re not impregnable, Watford have proved the same, which leaves only us proving a hard nut to crack at the moment.'
The luxury of a near fully-fit squad means that manager Tony Mowbray has many more selection options at his disposal than in recent weeks.
If Martin Albrechtsen can find the form he showed earlier in the season then maybe Albion will begin to look more composed at the back.
Defender Liam Fontaine plays his last game before starting a one-match ban, while striker Darren Byfield may get the nod ahead of Lee Trundle, whose form has been patchy since his £1m summer move from Swansea City.
A big-money summer signing from Wolves, McIndoe took time to settle at Ashton Gate but has blossomed in recent weeks to become the second-rated midfielder in the Actim Index Championship player stats.
Albion have the edge in head-to-head encounters between the two teams with 16 wins to City's 12. There have been 14 draws.
West Bromwich Albion v Scunthorpe United
Saturday December 29th
Kick off: 3pm
Date:Wednesday December 26 2007
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