West Brom predicted XI vs Preston North End: Semi Ajayi in contention after AFCON return

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Baggies will be looking to make it back-to-back wins when they take on Preston North End on Wednesday evening

West Bromwich Albion manager Valerien Ismael will be forced into making at least one change to the eleven that ran out 3-0 victors over Peterborough United after it was revealed that new striker Daryl Dike will be facing a spell on the sidelines.

The American forward limped off early in the second-half and Ismael confirmed worst fears ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Preston North End - stating that a hamstring injury will keep him out for around eight weeks.

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Sky Sports pundit Don Goodman has urged West Brom to make a move for Daryl Dike in the new year. The powerful striker, who shone on loan for Barnsley under now-Baggies boss Valerien Ismael last season, has eight caps for the USA senior side. (Sky Sports)

Photo: ANDY JACOBSOHNSky Sports pundit Don Goodman has urged West Brom to make a move for Daryl Dike in the new year. The powerful striker, who shone on loan for Barnsley under now-Baggies boss Valerien Ismael last season, has eight caps for the USA senior side. (Sky Sports)

Photo: ANDY JACOBSOHN
Sky Sports pundit Don Goodman has urged West Brom to make a move for Daryl Dike in the new year. The powerful striker, who shone on loan for Barnsley under now-Baggies boss Valerien Ismael last season, has eight caps for the USA senior side. (Sky Sports) Photo: ANDY JACOBSOHN

It was the worst possible news for Albion. After spending the entire first half of the season struggling for goals, the man they had brought in to solve that problem gets taken out for two months after just his first start for the club.

Ismael didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing in another striker this month to fill the void but Wednesday’s fixture will probably come too soon for any new faces.

One returning face that could find his way back into the eleven is Semi Ajayi.

Ajayi has missed the last few matches due to international commitments with Nigera at the Africa Cup of Nations but is now back in the UK following the Super Eagles’ elimination from the tournament.

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Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and midfielder Alex Mowatt are also back in contention after suspension.

Here’s the eleven we think the manager will go with as the Baggies look to make it back-to-back wins.

In: Daryl Dike (Orlando City, undisc). Out: Callum Morton (Peterborough, loan).In: Daryl Dike (Orlando City, undisc). Out: Callum Morton (Peterborough, loan).
In: Daryl Dike (Orlando City, undisc). Out: Callum Morton (Peterborough, loan).

Goalkeeper

David Button has done a fine job deputising for the suspended Sam Johnstone but it would be hard to see the latter not coming back into the eleven.

If Button was to get the nod, it would be some statement from Val.

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Defence

The back three kept a clean-sheet last time out, dealing with the Posh threat with ease and for that reason would make little sense to change.

Ajayi has only been in the country a few days so a substitute appearance if any would be the more sensible option.

With that said, Matthew Clarke, Cedric Kipre and Kyle Bartley will make up the three.

Midfield

Alex Mowatt’s return could throw a potential spanner in the works in terms of team selection here. Two players that are guaranteed to keep their places are the wing-backs; Conor Townsend and Darnell Furlong.

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It’s the middle two where Ismael may feel the need to freshen things up. Jake Livermore and Adam Reach both played 90 minutes versus the Posh but a positive result may see Ismael reluctant to change.

Yoann Barbet of Queens Park Rangers challenges Karlan Grant of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich AlbionYoann Barbet of Queens Park Rangers challenges Karlan Grant of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion
Yoann Barbet of Queens Park Rangers challenges Karlan Grant of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion | Getty Images

Attack

With the injury to Dike, a change will be enforced up top. The most logical option will see Callum Robinson come back in as the solo striker unless a loan is completed before kick-off.

Before the victory over Peterborough, Ismael described Grady Diangana as one of the best players in the Championship when he’s on form and challenged him to discover that said form more often. Well, brought on as a second-half substitute he was key in helping the side get the three points, even helping himself to the third goal on the day. I think he’s rewarded with a start here.

That leaves Karlan Grant taking up the other position just behind Robinson. Grant started from the off against the Posh and was also on the score-sheet so both he and Diangana will be hoping to kick on and add to their tallies against North End.

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Team in full

West Bromwich Albion (3-4-2-1): Johnstone; Kipre, Bartley, Clarke; Furlong, Livermore, Reach, Townsend; Diangana, Grant; Robinson

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